Great Britain or Ireland?
By mustang6560 on 8/16/12
With London 2012 in the rear-view mirror, the focus of the international community has already shifted to South America for 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro - and golf's return to the Summer Games.

And since we're on the topic of Rio, one individual, Rory McIlroy, is facing the biggest decision of his professional golf career - which country - Ireland or Great Britain - will he represent?
It is regrettable that McIlroy should be facing such a dilemma, when his second major title at the US PGA is a cause for jubilation on both sides of the Irish border. And yet he is under pressure to declare his hand for the Rio Olympics because he is Catholic. His great friend and compatriot, Graeme McDowell, is spared the same predicament as a Protestant, since it is widely expected that he will compete for Britain.

But Northern Irish Catholics tend, as boxing medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan showed at London 2012, to align themselves with the Republic. Representing Britain would, at one time, have been deemed perfidious, equivalent to backing a state that they perceived as oppressive.

McIlroy seeks to stand above the swirl of sectarianism. He negotiates his path through a minefield of questions with complete neutrality, since he defines himself as Northern Irish first and regards all other matters of political affiliation as secondary.
The expression, "damned if you do, damned if you don't" comes to mind. If he picks Ireland, he'll upset people in Great Britain. And if he picks Great Britain, he'll upset people in Ireland. This seems like a lose-lose situation for Rory. I wonder if he can agree to represent Ireland in 2016 and Great Britain in 2020 (or vice versa)?

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[ comments ]
bobhooe says:
he will choose Ireland.
mjaber says:
Since he was born in, and I believe lives in, Northern Ireland, shouldn't he be representing Great Britain, since Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain? Does he have dual citizenship? I apologize for my ignorance on this matter, as I was under the impression that Ireland, and Northern Ireland were not the same country. I know that the UK hold on Northern Ireland has been disputed for years, but at this time (and at the time of Rory's birth), it was part of Great Britain, right?
gpickin says:
I lived in NZ, and I always got confused with this stuff.
Ok... to the best of my knowledge, and some googling.

Great Britain is consider England Scotland and Wales
United Kingdom is Great Britain PLUS Northern Ireland

So he will play for Ireland, since neither part of Ireland is part of Great Britain.
tartantoml says:
When he plays they shows the flag of Ulster. Look him up in Wikipedia, flag of Ulster (as does Graeme McDowell). Then look up Padraig Harrington (Dublin Ireland) and he has the tricolor.

Wikipedia:"Ireland is an island" then "Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom"
Duke of Hazards says:
this is confusing.

'Great Britain' technically is the name of the island as gpickin noted, which includes England, Scotland and Wales. However, Team 'Great Britain' in the Olympics is actually Team 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. As gpickin also explained, United Kingdom is defined as 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.'

The N. Irish unionists (protestants) have petitioned the Olympic committee to rename it Team 'UK', not Team 'GBR', but this was rejected on the grounds that over 1/2 of the Northern Irish athletes (the Catholic nationalist ones) play for Ireland.

When they compete in non-olympic events, it's an easy matter for Rors and G-Mac to fly the provincial Ulster Banner, which represents the government of N. Ireland and doesn't have any religious affiliation. However, N. Ireland doesn't have it's own team in the Olympics. The best course of action for him is the one that he's already chosen - wait and see what the political climate is down the road.
gpickin says:
Ok, see I thought it was more confusing than I posted.
You are right Duke, its a mess :)
Now I have to bookmark this page for life, so I can fully understand it.
mjaber says:
I'm not sure it really matters anyway, since golf in the Olympics is not a team competition. The only time it will really matter is if he were to medal.
Duke of Hazards says:
i think the whole point of the article is over which country Rory will choose to represent (and therefore politically affiliate himself with). Nathan's suggestion may not be a bad one, if Rory decides to remain politically neutral, although he'd likely have to do some publicly televised coin toss or something to see which country he'd decide to represent 'first'.
mmontisano says:
Padraig Harrington went into this after his US Open win. he wants him to pick team GBR so it can let in another Irishman. team GBR is pretty stout as it stands right now when you think it would include Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and some others that I'm forgetting at the moment.

good luck Rors, you're going to need it.
jfurr says:
FWIW - I thought I heard Feherty say last Sunday he thought that Rory would play for Ireland, but who knows what will happen. ...
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