Rory McIlroy: I probably won’t play at Tokyo Olympics

Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy said he will likely skip the Tokyo Olympics because he can’t compete under Northern Ireland’s flag, which is not surprising given his recent comments about his Olympic golf situation.

“More likely than not, I won’t be going to the Games in 2020, just because of my personal feeling towards not the Olympic Games, the Olympic Games are great, and I think golf included in the Olympic Games, it’s fantastic, but just for me it’s something that I just don’t want to get into,” McIlroy said in a BBC interview published Tuesday. “That’s a personal choice, and hopefully people respect that decision.”

The BBC interview was published two days after McIlroy’s comments about resenting the Olympics were published by the Irish Independent.

The world No. 2 golfer said he didn’t like being put in an uncomfortable position of having to choose between representing two flags with which he feels no connection, according to the newspaper.

When golf was readded to the Olympics for the Rio Games, McIlroy knew that if he was going to play, he couldn’t represent his native Northern Ireland, which does not field an Olympic team separate from Great Britain. So he had to choose between Great Britain and Ireland and in 2014 picked the latter, which he had previously represented at the World Cup of Golf in 2009 and 2011.

Then, less than two months before the Rio Olympics, McIlroy announced he would skip the Olympics due to Zika virus concerns.

In the months that followed, McIlroy hinted that other reasons went into his decision, perhaps primarily — that he didn’t consider Olympic golf that prestigious. Or because of the politics concerning which country he would represent.

The latest BBC interview suggests national representation is the biggest roadblock. Maybe the only one.

“A decision that I fought with myself for so many years,” McIlroy said in the BBC interview. “Just for me, I’m a very conflicted person, and not a lot of people understand that, maybe.”

Tokyo 2020 might be McIlroy’s last shot at the Olympics, as golf isn’t guaranteed a place in the Olympic program beyond that.

MORE: Tim Finchem eyes Olympic golf change in 2020