After making the mistake of upsetting not one, but two nations while trying to decide whether to play for Ireland or Great Britain at the Rio Olympics, Rory McIlroy is getting some assistance from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club Wednesday.
Chief exec Peter Dawson said that since McIlroy competed for Ireland at previous events early in his golf career, rules dictate that he should carry that nationality with him into the Games.
“Because Rory’s history [is] of playing for Ireland at amateur level… that there may be a regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that,” Dawson told the Independent.
He’s kind of right, but it’s not a hard and fast rule with the IOC, which allows athletes to switch nations so long as it’s at least three years ahead of the Games giving McIlroy a few more months to make a decision about Rio. Great Britain’s Aaron Cook now competes for Isle of Man and Brazilian gold medalist Arthur Zanetti is considering a switch, too, due to lack of national funding for his sport.
Rory, who as a Northern Irishman can decide which nation to represent, has previously said that he always felt more British growing up. That answer caused a stir in the golf crazy land of Ireland, and he and countryman Graeme McDowell have asked the IOC to step in and make a decision for them. They haven’t received a response, but Dawson’s “ruling” is a step in the right direction.
“I would very much like to take this burden of choice away from the player if we can possibly do it because it’s not fair to him,” Dawson added. “I think he’s made it pretty clear in one or two pronouncements that he’s worried about it and the last thing we want is players worrying about this.”