Citing schedule concerns and desire to focus on the FedEx Cup playoffs, Dustin Johnson said on Monday that he will not participate in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In a statement sent to Golfweek, his agent, David Winkle, said Johnson wants to concentrate on the PGA Tour’s season-ending tournaments that begin a week after the Olympics.
The leading points earner after the Tour Championship takes home $15 million. Johnson has never won the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
“Dustin gave the Olympics a great deal of thought and we discussed the pros and cons of him participating at length,” Winkle wrote in an email to Golfweek. “At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference and priority. As much as he would be honored to be an Olympian, the FedEx Cup Playoffs are also very important to him. Having had a few close calls in the playoffs, he really wants to win them before his time is done, and feels that he wouldn’t be giving himself the best opportunity to do so if he added lengthy international trip just prior to their beginning.”
Olympics Clash with Johnson’s Schedule
The Olympics find themselves at an inopportune time, sandwiched between the Open Championship and the playoffs. If Johnson, or any other top-ranked golfer, was going to play in Tokyo, they would be playing five events in six weeks.
Johnson usually doesn’t play in that many consecutive tournaments. Add in the fact that this is a Ryder Cup year, and that would be an awful lot of extra golf.
Fellow American, Brooks Koepka, hasn’t officially said he will skip the Olympics, but doesn’t sound very optimistic he will be making the trip either. He told reporters earlier in the year, “We’ll see where everything else falls.”
Tiger Woods isn’t currently eligible to play in the Olympics, but even if he becomes so, will probably use the same reasoning as Johnson not to go to Tokyo. Woods has been protecting his surgically repaired back and isn’t playing in this week’s Bay Hill Invitational because of stiffness.
First Zika, Now Coronavirus
This isn’t the first time Johnson has decided not to represent his country in the Olympics. In 2016, he passed on competing in Rio de Janeiro when he expressed concerns about the Zika virus. Zika is a disease caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. South America had a rash of Zika virus cases four years ago, and several Olympians skipped the games.
Ironically, Johnson didn’t cite concerns over the coronavirus in his most recent decision. The respiratory disease has currently been linked to 70 countries with 90,000 cases and 3,100 deaths.
Olympic organizers in Tokyo are pledging to make the Olympics safe for all participants and fans. They have even floated the idea of postponing the games until later in the year.
Even that move may not guarantee golfers committing to the games. Most players like to have some sort of offseason, and playing in November would infringe on breaks they deem vital.