Rory McIlroy explains the real reason he shunned Rio Olympic games
Rory McIlroy has given the real reason he opted out of Rio Olympic games.
The Northern Irishman was among a number of high-profile players – including Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson – who decided not to compete at Rio 2016, with many citing concerns over the Zika virus.
Some time prior to his withdrawal, McIlroy had been the subject of speculation regarding who he would represent in Brazil – given he was eligible to compete for both Great Britain and Ireland.
He announced he would play for Ireland in 2014, before opting not to participate at all, but did not appreciate being made to consider such a decision.
“When it was announced [that golf was to be an Olympic sport] in 2009 or whatever, all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am. Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to p*** off the most?” McIlroy said in an exclusive interview with Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper.
“I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in – that’s my feeling towards it – and whether that’s right or wrong, it’s how I feel.
“I sent Justin Rose a text after he won, I think I still have the message: ‘I’m happy for you, mate. I saw how much it means to you. Congratulations.’
“He said: ‘Thanks very much. All the boys here want to know do you feel like you missed out?’ I said: ‘Justin, if I had been on the podium [listening] to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.’
“I don’t know the words to either anthem; I don’t feel a connection to either flag; I don’t want it to be about flags; I’ve tried to stay away from that.
“Not everyone is [driven by] nationalism and patriotism and that’s never been me, because I felt like I grew up in a place where I wasn’t allowed to be. It was suppressed.
“I turned on the TV at home and it was the BBC; I did my GCSEs; I used pounds sterling, stuff like that. So I’m a Catholic but I feel very much ‘Northern Irish’. And I never wanted it to get political or about where I’m from, but that’s what it turned into. And it just got to the point where it wasn’t worth the hassle.”