By James Crook

RorY McIlroy at Ryder CupJanuary 9 - Padraig Harrington has called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to help world number one golfer Rory McIlroy decide which nation to represent at Rio 2016.

Two-time Open champion Harrington said: "It would be nice if the Olympic council [sic] would say: 'Here we go, you can play in the Olympics,' or make the decision on a player's behalf.

"No sportsman should have to make that decision.

"That's it, straightforward - nobody at 23 years of age should be asked to make that decision."

McIlroy, from County Down, Northern Ireland, would be eligible for selection by both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, and has recently claimed that he may not compete in the Games at all in order to avoid a row over which country he should represent.

Golf will be featuring at the Games for the first time in 112 years at Rio 2016, and Dublin-born Harrington believes that McIlroy's absence from the event could damage the future of golf as an Olympic sport.

Paddy Harring 090113Padraig Harringtion has called for the IOC to help McIlroy choose which country to represent

"It's a very big deal because golf is only on a trial period in the Olympics.

"We need our best players to play in the Olympics to show that golf is serious about the Games."

In a BBC documentary about himself entitled Rory: Being Number One, shown last week,  McIlroy said: "I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK.

Rory McIlroy 090113World number one golfer McIlroy may not compete at Rio 2016 to avoid a row over which country he will represent

"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."

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