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Olympics 2024: NBA Stars Around Stephen Curry Golf in Abu Dhabi

The USA basketball team is currently preparing for the Olympics 2024 in Abu Dhabi. While the Olympians are in the UAE capital for training sessions and two test matches against Australia and Serbia, NBA stars Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker took advantage of a free afternoon for a round of golf. All three are regarded as excellent golfers.

Olympics 2024: Stephen Curry and Co. Compete on the Golf Course

Unsurprisingly, scratch golfer Stephen Curry certainly made an impression in Abu Dhabi: after all, the Golden State Warriors superstar won a celebrity tournament last year with the American Century Championship, including a hole-in-one. The 36-year-old was also presented with the Charlie Sifford Award this year for his extensive commitment and promotion of diversity in golf, named after the great campaigner against racism in golf who died in 2022. However, the four-time NBA champion will have to forgo defending his title at the American Century Championship due to the Olympics 2024.

Devin Booker, shooting guard for the Phoenix Suns, is also a passionate golfer and emphasized during the round of golf in Abu Dhabi that the sport helps him to find his “peace of mind”. Last year, the 27-year-old organized a celebrity golf tournament in which Jon Rahm, among others, took part. Jayson Tatum also has some experience on the golf course and took part in the FedEx St. Jude Pro-Am last August, for example. As part of his foundation, the newly crowned NBA champion from the Boston Celtics also organizes an annual charity golf tournament.

At the Summer Olympics, the USA basketball team is considered the big title favorite and is sending the NBA elite around LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to Europe after their disappointing performance at the Basketball World Cup. In Paris, the US basketball players are aiming for their fifth gold medal in a row. As the reigning world champions, Germany will face the USA in the knockout phase at the earliest.

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Olympics 2024: Why Is Rory McIlroy Competing for Ireland?

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.”

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Olympics 2024: Dutch Athletes Denied Participation

As Golf Digest proposes, the dream of competing in the Olympics 2024 has been dashed for Darius van Driel and Joost Luiten among the men and Dewi Weber among the women. The Dutch Olympic Committee or the Dutch Sports Federation (NOC/NSF) is responsible for this. Despite meeting the qualification criteria of the International Golf Federation (IGF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the national committee has denied these athletes participation.

According to IGF and IOC rules, the top 15 in the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR), based on the golf world rankings, qualify – with a maximum of four athletes per country. The 60-player field is then filled with the best outside the top 15, with a maximum of two participants per country. For the Netherlands, this includes Darius van Driel and Joost Luiten among the men, as well as Anne van Dam and Dewi Weber among the women. However, the Dutch Olympic Committee has its own criteria for golf.

Olympics 2024: Dutch Committee Blocks Participation

The Dutch Olympic Committee requires a “realistic chance” of placing in the top eight across all sports to approve Olympic participation. To meet this expectation, the committee has set stricter criteria than the IOC and IGF.

These criteria state that women must be placed in the top 24 and men in the top 27 of the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR). None of the four previously mentioned athletes meet this criterion. Anne van Dam is still in because she took advantage of an opportunity created in the fall. If a Dutch golfer is in the top 59 of the OGR, a top-8 finish in a highly competitive tournament is sufficient. The athletes could select eight events in advance where such a result would count. With her second place at the Ladies European Tour Championship 2023, Van Dam was the only one to achieve the required placement.

Van Driel, Luiten, and Weber will have to watch as others compete for Olympic honors and medals in August. Dewi Weber expressed her disappointment in an interview with Golf Digest: “Our own country says, we don’t think you’re worthy to be at the Olympics, and you’re not worth representing the Netherlands.” It’s such a hurtful and sad message to elite athletes like her, Weber said. She also mentioned in the interview that the athletes and the golf association would even pay for the trip themselves.

Joost Luiten also expressed his sadness on X: “I am very sad that I will not be participating in the Olympics 2024. The @nocnsf will not send me, even though I qualified according to the international golf federation’s criteria and the Olympic criteria. They don’t believe I can make it into the top 8!”

Olympics 2024: Switzerland and Austria Benefit from Dutch Participation Ban

If no solution is found by July 9, the date when the official participant list is announced, Switzerland and Austria will benefit. Among the men, Joel Girrbach from Switzerland would move up, and among the women, Sarah Schober would qualify for Paris. Schober would be the second Austrian golfer in the Olympic competition alongside Emma Spitz, while Joel Girrbach would be the only Swiss golfer among the men.

Former Ryder Cup Player Outraged

Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgian golf professional and former Ryder Cup player, expressed his outrage at the decision of the Netherlands on the platform X (formerly Twitter): “Shocking maneuver by Dutch Olympic Committee… gives a clear indication of lack of knowledge of golf.” Even golfers who are lower in the rankings can win a medal, as Slovakian Rory Sabbatini demonstrated. Sabbatini won silver with an Olympic record round of 61 strokes while being ranked 167th in the world at the time. There is at least hope for the Dutch for the Olympics 2028, as the committee has recently shown willingness for change. For Van Driel, Luiten, and Weber, this is likely only a small consolation for now.