Many athletes dream of representing their country at the Olympics. However, for golfer Rory McIlroy – who is a dual citizen – it was an awkward decision to choose which country he would represent.
The 32-year-old was born in Northern Ireland, which is a part of Great Britain, but is also Irish Catholic and spent most of his childhood competing in Ireland. He ultimately chose to represent Ireland, but said he will participate in the Olympics for the good of the game – not to serve his country.
“I’m not a very patriotic guy,” McIlroy said while shrugging and speaking in a somber tone, following his tie for 46th at the British Open.
“I am doing it because I think it is the right thing to do, and I missed it last time. For golf to be an Olympic sport you need your best players there, and I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else.”
McIlroy originally withdrew from the 2016 Rio Olympics because of the Zika virus, but also because of his nationality conundrum. The 2014 PGA champion did not want to offend anyone over his decision to choose one country over another.
The four-time major winner didn’t sound at all enthusiastic about the new-look Olympics, either. With no fans in attendance and many COVID-19 precautions, Tokyo will have a very different feel than past Olympics.
“I don’t know if there’s much to look forward to. It’s obviously going to be a very different environment,” McIlroy said. “Looking forward to getting another week’s golf in and trying to get my game in shape. As I said, there’s not much else to do there.”
The Irishman is in a major career slump and could use the extra work to figure out his game. McIlroy shot two-over-par in the final round of the British Open last weekend. This has stretched his major drought to seven years, his last win coming in 2014 when he won the PGA Championship.