Hailing from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy has a unique choice heading into the 2016 Olympics; he can either compete under the flag of Ireland or Great Britain in Rio, a decision unfortunately fraught with controversy in a country still recovering from decades of sectarian conflict.
Irishman Padraig Harrington spoke about Rory McIlroy's Olympic dilemma during a press conference for this week's Volvo Golf Champions event.
“I have massive sympathy as an Irishman and massive sympathy more so as a sportsman,” said the three-times major winner of the situation. “No sportsman should have to make that decision. That’s it, straightforward – nobody at 23 years of age should be asked to make that decision.
After avoiding questions about who he will play for in 2016, World No. 1 McIlroy spoke out in a recent BBC documentary, stating that rather than disappoint fans from either Great Britain or Ireland, he is considering skipping the games altogether.
Harrington went on to say that McIlroy's absence from the game would be a detriment to golf's chances of becoming a permanent event, according to Martin Dempster's report for the Scotsman.
“It’s very unfortunate and I think it is unfortunate in the sense that it means a great deal for golf for him [McIlroy] to play. It’s a very big deal because golf is only on a trial period in the Olympics.
“We have two runs at it and, as golfers, we do have to perform and put our best foot forward, so it would be nice if the world number one is there and he’s supporting the event. It’s an extraordinarily difficult decision. We need our best players to play in the Olympics to show that golf is serious in the Olympics.”