McIlroy will play for Team Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, but he sees the competition as a chance to represent golf rather than a specific nation
Rory McIlroy Unenthusiastic Ahead Of Tokyo Olympics: “I’m Not A Very Patriotic Guy”
Rory McIlroy will head to the Tokyo Olympics to represent Team Ireland, although he isn’t doing it out of patriotism.
Speaking to reporters after The Open, where he finished T46, McIlroy explained how the Games presents a good opportunity for him to work on his golf and hopefully find some form.
“I’m looking forward to getting another week’s golf in and trying to get my game in shape,” McIlroy explained unenthusiastically.
“There’s not much else to do there, so 12 hours a day at the golf course, hopefully I get my game in better shape.
“I’m not a very patriotic guy, I’m doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do.
“I missed it last time, and for golf to be an Olympic sport you need your best players there and I feel like I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else.”
Northern Irishman McIlroy will represent Team Ireland, rather than Team GB that encompasses the United Kingdom, because the Golfing Union of Ireland takes in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
McIlroy pulled out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which Englishman Justin Rose won, due to health concerns about the Zika virus.
McIlroy told Independent.ie in 2017 that he sent Rose a message congratulating him.
Rose responded by asking whether McIlroy felt like he had missed out by withdrawing from the competition, but the Northern Irishman relayed the reply he sent to Rose about his issue with the Olympics.
“‘Justin, if I had been on the podium listening to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.’
Rory continued: “I don’t know the words to either anthem; I don’t feel a connection to either flag; I don’t want it to be about flags; I’ve tried to stay away from that.
“Olympic golf to me doesn’t mean that much – I don’t get excited about it.”
McIlroy will also tee off at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 29 without any fans in attendance, as a spike in Covid-19 infections means that venues in and around Tokyo are left without spectators.
Furthermore, the approximate 11,000 athletes competing at the Games are staying at the Olympic Village in a bubble, whereby they can’t access public spaces in Japan’s capital city.