After R&A chief Peter Dawson implied that Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy might be spared the difficult choice of which country he’d represent in the 2016 Olympics due to a Charter regulation, reports surfaced on Tuesday saying that McIlroy would almost certainly represent Ireland. However, it appears Dawson may have misinterpreted the Olympic regulation, according to BBC Sport:
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said “there may be an Olympic regulation” saying McIlroy can only represent Ireland in Rio because he has played for them in two World Cups.
But the International Olympic Committee cited a rule saying if three years have passed since he represented Ireland, the 23-year-old could play for Team GB.
The world number two’s international dilemma comes from the fact that athletes born in Northern Ireland are eligible to represent Great Britain or Ireland at Olympic Games.
The Olympic Charter states: “A competitor who has represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships… and who has changed his nationality or acquired a new nationality, may participate in the Olympic Games to represent his new country provided that at least three years have passed since the competitor last represented his former country.”
With the Rio Games three years away, this would mean McIlroy could represent either country there as long as he does not play for Ireland again in a tournament, although the rule also adds that the “period may be reduced or even cancelled”.
The last time McIlroy represented Ireland in the World Cup was 2011.
If Rory thought for a brief moment that he had an easy out of the difficult decision he faces, it was apparently wishful thinking. Last September, McIlroy said he felt “more British than Irish,” but he’s still considering his options, including not playing at all because he might upset too many people.
Here’s another idea: Rory should marry tennis player girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and represent Denmark!
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)