Rory McIlroy was one of several big-name golfers to pass on the 2016 Olympics. The event’s location, Rio, seemed to be the driving force in these decisions due to concerns about the Zika virus and safety. But for McIlroy, the reasoning behind his choice runs much deeper.
And it appears likely that even with the 2020 Olympics being held in Japan, we won’t see the Northern Irishman there.
Ahead of this week’s BMW South African Open on the European Tour, McIlroy told the BBC, “More likely than not, I won’t be going to the Games in 2020 just because of my personal feelings towards, not the Olympic Games – I think the Olympic Games are great – I think golf included in the Olympic Games is fantastic. Just for me, it’s just something I just don’t want to get into."
“It’s a decision I haven’t taken lightly. A decision I’ve fought with myself over for so many years. . . . Golf in the Olympics is a great thing. It went so good in ’16, and I hope it goes even better in 2020. I just probably won’t be a part of it.”
McIlroy’s candid comments came a couple days after an interview was published with the Sunday Independent in which he did get into the topic more. Since the announcement that golf was coming back to the Olympics, the question of which country McIlroy would play for – Great Britain or Ireland – has lingered. And the four-time major champ is as uneasy to answer it now as he was then.
"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," he told the Sunday Independent's Paul Kimmage.
McIlroy also said he told gold medalist Justin Rose he "would have felt uncomfortable either way" in response to which national anthem he would imagine hearing on the podium if he medalled.
Although golf's return in the Olympics was deemed a rousing success, fans surely wouldn't mind watching an even better field in 2020. For now, it seems that won't include McIlroy.
"That’s a personal choice, and hopefully, people respect that decision," McIlroy told the BBC.