Sunday 19 August 2018

McIlroy 'right to delay 2016 Olympics allegiance'

OLYMPIC Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey believes Rory McIlroy is doing the right thing by not declaring for Ireland or Great Britain ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The US Open champion and world number two, who has represented Ireland at golf's World Cup, has yet to make a decision on who he will represent but has admitted his excitement at the prospects of playing at the Games in the Brazilian city.

"I don't think there's any pressure to be put on them now at this stage," Pat Hickey said yesterday at the official launch of Cadburys' sponsorship of the Olympic and Paralympic Irish teams for this year's London Games.

"You know the rule: every athlete in Northern Ireland has the choice to go for Great Britain or Ireland, but they don't have to make that choice until nearer the date. Rio is 2016 so 2015 is when they'd have to make that choice."

Graeme McDowell is another who faces the same choice -- and Pádraig Harrington caused a major stir earlier this year when he suggested that the two Northern Ireland golfers should declare for Britain and open more spots for those south of the Border at the Rio Games.

Golf will make its first appearance at the Games in 100 years when it returns in Brazil. Meanwhile, ex-Irish international Paul McGrath is believed to be one of the Irish athletes who will be given the privilege of carrying the Olympic flame when it comes to Dublin.

The OCI is still on the search for a marquee celebrity to become a torchbearer after a number of original candidates turned them down -- including McIlroy, Harrington, Brian O'Driscoll and Robbie Keane.

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