Rory McIlroy has confirmed that he intends to represent Ireland at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
McIlroy chose not to compete at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, initially citing fears about the Zika virus. He later referenced a feeling that golf at the Olympics didn't really matter along with concerns about the "whole politics of the thing" regarding which flag he would compete under.
McIlroy, who is from Holywood, Co. Down, can compete for either Ireland or Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Olympics.
"I think it was difficult up until the point that it wasn’t," McIlroy told the Golf Channel regarding having to choose between representing Team Ireland and Team GB.
I made it more difficult for myself than I needed to.
My feeling towards it was more 'What will other people think?' Once I got that out of my head and just tried to do what was right for me, then it became easy. It was me wrestling with all of those things.
As I said, previously, once I left trying not to upset anyone aside, then it was actually a pretty easy decision. The decision was I’m going to play golf for the country or the nation that I’ve always played for through my junior and amateur days and now into the professional game.
Even though the Olympics has given me this choice, there really wasn’t a choice because all I’ve done throughout my life is play golf for Ireland so why would that change just because the tournament has changed. That was my decision.
Qualification for the Olympics is based on golf's world rankings. That makes world number two McIlroy a virtual dead cert to be eligible.
"I’m excited to play the Olympics and call myself an Olympian," McIlroy said ahead of the Zozo Championship in Japan.
"Coming to such a golf-crazy country like Japan helps. It’s a really good atmosphere and just being here this week and seeing the enthusiasm of the fans makes me look forward to coming back next year and playing the Olympics."
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) October 23, 2019