Day, Johnson, Spieth and McIlroy are all not competing in Rio due to Zika
The largest children's hospital in Brazil has invited Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson to see the work they do, following all three players withdrawals from the Olympic Games.
Curitiba's Little Prince Children's Hospital made a similar open invitation to Rory McIlroy in recent weeks, with the hospital, still waiting for a reply from the World number four.
Jose Carneiro, CEO of the Hospital is calling on the three golfers to follow in the footsteps of Brazilian legend Pele in trying to help children around the world. The 75-year-old is an ambassador for the hospital and is a regular visitor.
All four golfers will not be competing in Rio de Janeiro in the golf tournament, due to fears over the Zika virus. While Mr. Carneiro said he understood their reasons for not competing, he hoped they would be able to visit Curitiba and see the good work that is done.
Pele poses for photos with children during a visit to the Hospital in Curitiba in 2005. (AP Photo/Maurilio Cheli)
You can read the letter in full below:
Dear Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson,
My name is Jose Carneiro. I am the CEO of the Little Prince Children's Hospital (Hospital Pequeno Principe), the largest pediatric hospital in Brazil and South America.
On Friday, August 5, the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games will take place in Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. We are disappointed you will not now be there to represent your country, having pulled out primarily because of the Zika virus.
It was in this same stadium, in 1969, the patron of our hospital, the legendary Brazilian footballer Pelé – whom the International Olympic Committee named 'Athlete of the 20th Century' – scored his 1000th goal which he immediately dedicated to ‘the children’. Through our 'Goals for Life' campaign, we are making Pelé's dedication a shining example to the world.
In May this year, with much goodwill and hopeful expectation, we invited Ireland’s Olympic golfer, Rory McIlroy (a great soccer enthusiast) to visit our children’s hospital and to play a game of golf to support our work, before or after the Olympic Games.
On June 23, following his withdrawal from the Olympics because of the Zika virus, I wrote ‘An Open Letter to Rory McIlroy’ asking him, as I am now asking you, to transform his personal concerns over Zika into a practical concern by supporting our medical research scientists at our Pelé Little Prince Research Institute. I reminded Rory that our scientists are not only working to protect Brazilian mothers and children but in the long-term, “all mothers and children throughout the world.”
At a press conference before the French Open Rory McIlroy said he would respond to my letter. We look forward to hearing from him as we have immense respect for Rory McIlroy’s commitment to linking sport with corporate social responsibility.
In my letter to Rory I stated: "While we understand your reasons for withdrawing from the Olympics, the reality for us is that the medical profession throughout Brazil still must deal with the threats posed by the Zika virus. We are not only fighting to contain and eliminate the virus, but we are also working desperately to stop it from spreading to Africa and Europe, and the rest of the world." And that, of course, includes the USA and Australia.
We are anxious not to let Zika overshadow our Olympic Games which should be a cause of celebration and peace building for all humanity. Let us not allow the virus poison the atmosphere of this great global event. As athletes of the 21st Century, we ask you, and all athletes, with dignity and respect, to stand with the ‘Athlete of the 20th Century’ – Pelé – in building a positive legacy to the Rio Olympic Games.
In a world where we see too much suffering, inhumanity and conflict, let us come together, during this great global celebration of our common humanity, to be ambassadors for our children, especially our most vulnerable.
We hope it will be possible to welcome you to Brazil in the future. In the meantime, we wish you good health and we look forward, hopefully, to your positive response.
CEO Little Prince Hospital Complex
CEO Pelé Little Prince Research Institute