After sitting out on golf’s return to the Olympic Games fold in Rio in 2016, Rory McIlroy has confirmed that he intends to take part in the 2020 showpiece in Tokyo.
Speaking to the media ahead of this week’s US PGA Championship at Bethpage, the four-time major winner revealed his plans, stating that he wants to represent Ireland in the quadrennial event.
After saying that it’s “more likely than not” that he’ll play, McIlroy elaborated on his plans.
“I'm excited to be going to the Olympics,” he said. “I'm excited to play for Ireland. I'm excited that Neil Manchip, who was our national coach when I was an amateur, is going to lead the team. I don't know who might be going on that team but yeah, I'm excited for it. It's going to be a great experience, and probably a little bit nostalgic because it'll bring me back to 15 years ago, whenever I was doing that with the same people. So it's going to be cool.”
As a Northern Irishman, McIlroy is eligible to represent both Team GB and Ireland at the Olympics. However, in June 2014, he stated his intention to play for Ireland. That position hasn’t changed.
“As a young boy, it was always my dream to play for Ireland,” said the 30-year-old. “I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer.
“It's the same as like the rugby players, right? There's players that play for Ulster but they want to play for Ireland. It's seen as a whole-island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.
“So then obviously when you put the Olympics into the equation and then there's a choice to be made, you really have to start thinking, okay, well, what are your beliefs and your values. It makes you sort of have to delve a little bit deeper. It's not just a superficial decision. It's something that you have to really believe in.
“I've thought about that for a long time, and in the end, it was the fact that when I was a little boy and I got that first call up to the national squad to go on to Citywest and be a part of the youth system or the boys or whatever, and making that team and playing in home internationals, I was so proud to do that.
“So why would it be any different just because it's a different golf tournament or because it's a different arena or a different environment? That was basically what it came down to. I mean, I had an unbelievable amateur career, and I don't mean that in terms of results, but I mean that in the experiences I had and the trips that I had and the friendships that I made and the friendships that I still have to this day. That was all because of playing for Ireland and getting close to some of those guys.”
The 2020 Olympics Games take place in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9.