When the Olympics head to Tokyo next summer, Rory McIlroy plans to be there, too.
McIlroy confirmed his plans to play for Ireland in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Wednesday ahead of the ZoZo Championship in Chiba, Japan — the PGA Tour’s inaugural event in the country — which will mark his first Olympic games.
“I’m excited to play the Olympics and call myself an Olympian,” McIlroy said, via the Golf Channel. “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.”
McIlroy pulled out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — which hosted the sport for the first time in over 100 years — due to both fears over the Zika virus in Brazil and not knowing which country he should be representing. McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, could have either represented Ireland or Great Britain at the Olympics.
The decision, he said, put him in a terrible place.
“Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to [upset] the most?” McIlroy said in 2017, via the Associated Press. “I started to resent it, and I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in. That’s my feelings toward it, and whether that’s right or wrong, that’s how I feel.”
The 30-year-old still has until next summer to officially qualify for the 2020 Olympics, which officially kick off on July 24. Though based on his performance as of late, he should have no issue earning a spot in the field in Tokyo.
McIlroy, who is currently No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings, won three times on Tour last season and had 14 top-10 finishes, including a T8 finish at the PGA Championship and a T9 finish at the U.S. Open. He won the Tour Championship, too, earning him his second FedExCup title and the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award.v
While the Olympics put him in an awkward position before, McIlroy said he is simply over the stress.
“I’ve had to deal with things in regard to the Olympics that others haven’t had to and that brings questions and difficulties,” McIlroy said, via the Golf Channel. “But at the end of the day I thought I can’t let that stuff ruin my experience of going to the Olympics and playing.”
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