The attitude of some of the world’s top sports stars over their selection for the Rio Olympics 2016 is under scrutiny.
Rivals, administrators and managers claim many stars in sports like golf and soccer turn down the chance to represent their country and battle for gold because they do not see competing as a career priority.
The major stars who have pulled out of the Olympic golf tournament include Irish trio Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.
They all blame the risk of contracting the Zika mosquito virus for their decision. The illness can affect unborn children.
But their colleagues point out that the Olympic tournament takes place only once every four years and does not come with a major pot of prize money, whereas 16 major golf contests take place in the time between Olympics.
Each has a huge prize pot and opportunities for earning even more from endorsements.
Uneasy relationship with professionals
The episode highlights an uneasy relationship between professional sports and the amateur Olympics.
In recent years, sports such as tennis, golf and soccer have been added to the roster in a bid to attract big name stars that the Olympics. Their appearance attracts publicity and sells tickets.
However, sports pros are reluctant to turn out at the Olympics because taking gold may be prestigious but is not a major career move.
“Most golfers are married with families or with families on the way, but 99% of athletes in other sports are single,” said golfer Padraig Harrington, who is going to Rio.
“When you’re married, there is more than just one person to be considered.
Competing calls on sports stars
“The Olympics comes every four years for an athlete. For them it’s the be-all and end-all, whereas we’ll have 16 majors in the time between the last games and this one.”
The International Olympic Committee, the governing body for the games, is facing a growing call for golf to be excluded from the competition.
“If your best won’t compete, you don’t belong in the Games,” said Barry Maister, a former hockey gold medal winner.
Other athletes like swimmer Cate Campbell and boxing champion Katie Taylor have voiced the same views.