On the eve of the Irish Open, here’s a Rory McIlroy story not related to the golfer’s clubs getting lost by an airline: Clad appropriately in a green shirt a pre-tournament press conference, the Ulsterman stated he’ll play for Ireland at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The announcement ends more than a year of speculation as to whether the 25-year-old will play for Great Britain, Ireland, or no one (choosing to opt out of the politicized situation and not pick a side). Northern Ireland, of course, is part of Great Britain in Olympic competitions.
Even a casual observer of world news is a aware of the history of conflict and geopolitical tensions between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So the difficulty of McIlroy’s decision, and the reality that he’d upset a percentage of the population in at least one country, caused him to proceed with caution.
A determining factor in McIlroy’s choice: the fact that he played amateur golf for Ireland.
“I have been thinking about the decision a lot and remembered all the times I represented Ireland as an amateur,” McIlroy said.
If the fact that soccer fan McIlroy’s announcement is coming during the World Cup (also in Brazil) seems coincidental, here’s why:
“There is no point in delaying it,” he said. “I was watching some of the World Cup and thinking about Brazil in a couple of years time. It really got me thinking that maybe I should just go ahead and get it out of the way. I am really looking forward now to the Olympics in a couple of years time.”
Golf returns to the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since 1904.