McIlroy may miss Rio 2016 to avoid row over which country he represents
Thursday, 03 January 2013
January 3 - Rory McIlroy, the world's top golfer, may be missing when the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years at Rio 2016 because he wants to avoid a row over which country he represents
The 23-year-old from Holywood in Country Down would be eligible for selection by either Britain or Ireland at the 2016 Games in Rio.
But he has found himself unwittingly at the centre of controversy after he admitted last year that his preference would be to represent Britain, which led to criticism in Ireland, where he played much of his early golf.
"I just think being from where we're from, we're placed in a very difficult position," McIlroy said on documentary about him to be broadcast on BBC 1 tonight.
"I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK.
"If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I'd play for Northern Ireland.
"Play for one side or the other - or not play at all because I may upset too many people.
"Those are my three options I'm considering very carefully."
McIlroy, whose career earnings are approaching $20 million (£12 million/€15 million), won his second major title last year when he claimed victory in the PGA Championship.
McIlroy's absence from Rio would be a major blow to the creditability of the tournament when golf is due to appear in the Olympics for the first time since St Louis in 1904.
But he is determined that he does not want to alienate any of his fans.
"People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way," he said.
"I don't want to do repay them for their support with something they don't want me to do."
Rory: Being Number One will be screened on BBC1 tonight at 22:35 GMT.
October 2012: Exclusive - "Misquoted" Hickey clarifies comments over McIlroy role at Rio 2016
October 2012: McIlroy can carry flag at Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony if he represents Ireland, says Hickey
September 2012: McIlroy claims he still has to make a decision on who to play for at Rio 2016
August 2011: McIlroy's undecided about which country he would represent in Rio
June 2011: Mike Rowbottom - Who will claim the Boy Wonder McIlroy for Rio 2016?