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Olympics 2024: Why Is Rory McIlroy Competing for Ireland?

Rory McIlroy will once again be playing for Ireland at the 2024 Olympics. Find out why the Northern Irishman is not playing for Great Britain here.

As in Tokyo 2020, Rory McIlroy has once again decided to compete for Ireland at the Olympic Games. McIlroy comes from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and should therefore actually be competing for Great Britain. However, there is an exemption for athletes from Northern Ireland.

Rory McIlroy chooses Ireland for the 2024 Olympics

Northern Ireland has a unique position in international sport. Olympic athletes from Northern Ireland have the opportunity to compete for either the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain and Northern Ireland (effectively the United Kingdom). This choice reflects the complex and divided history of the region. “Team GB” is the name under which athletes from Great Britain compete at the Olympics, a name that does not directly include Northern Ireland. There have been calls in the past to rename the team ‘Team UK’ to reflect this inclusion.

McIlroy, who always played under the Irish flag in his youth, chose Ireland despite saying he felt more British. “I made it more difficult for myself than it needed to be,” McIlroy explained. “My thoughts were more about what other people would think. Once I put that behind me and just did what was right for me, the decision became easy. It was an internal battle with all those thoughts.” He continued, “Once I gave up trying not to upset anyone, the decision was pretty easy. I’m going to play golf for the country or nation I’ve always played for, from my junior and amateur days through to the professional game. Although the Olympics give me that choice, there really wasn’t a choice because I’ve played golf for Ireland all my life. Why should that change just because the tournament changes? That was my decision.”