LONDON — Rory McIlroy may skip the 2016 Olympics because of a problem over which country to represent.
The No. 1-ranked player from Northern Ireland is eligible to compete for either Britain or Ireland when golf returns to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He said he may miss the games to avoid having to choose between the two.
”I just think being from where we’re from, we’re placed in a very difficult position,” the 23-year-old McIlroy said in a BBC documentary. ”I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the U.K.”
McIlroy stirred controversy last year when he said in a British newspaper interview that he felt ”more British than Irish.” He then posted a clarification on Twitter saying he grew up ”a proud product of Irish golf” and had not made a decision on the Olympics.
”If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I’d play for Northern Ireland,” he said in the BBC program. ”It’s a tough one, whatever decision I make – whether it’s play for Ireland, play for Britain or not play at all, maybe, just because I don’t want to upset too many people.
”It’s definitely an option. I either play for one side or the other or I don’t play. Those are the three options that I have and I’m still considering them very carefully.”
McIlroy, who has twice represented Ireland at the World Cup, was asked whether he regretted saying last year that he felt more British.
”It was a moment, I don’t want to say of weakness, but of frustration with it all,” he said. ”People tune in to watch me play on TV and feel like they are connected to me in some way. I don’t want to repay them for their support by doing something that they wouldn’t want me to do.
”When I do make a decision, it’s going to be one that I’ve thought long and hard about, and one I feel comfortable with.”