...whose life is pledged to Ireland?
Rory McIlroy Required To Play For Ireland In Rio?
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/24/13
Northern Ireland's most famous golf export, Rory McIlroy, has found himself at the center of an intriguing Olympic debate: If he plays golf at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, would he play for Great Britain, or for Ireland? In January, McIlroy even entertained the possibility of sitting out the Olympics over this very sensitive issue.

But Peter Dawson, the current chief executive of the Royal & Ancient, made news — controversially on several fronts — in his wide-ranging press conference yesterday. One of those comments was that McIlroy might be required to play for Ireland, not Great Britain, at Rio in 2016:
"I think because Rory's history of playing for Ireland at amateur level and, I think at World Cup level, that there may be a regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that. It's quite ambiguous really but there is a rule that a player who has represented one nation at a previous world championships from certain countries, that carries with you."
Indeed, McIlroy played for Team Ireland at the men's 2006 World Amateur Team Championship (a.k.a. the Eisenhower Trophy) at Cape Town, South Africa. McIlroy, Gareth Shaw, and Simon Ward played under team captain Michael Burns. In 2009 and 2011, McIlroy represented Ireland at the World Cup of Golf, held in China. In fact, McIlroy and Graeme McDowell finished the 2009 event tied for second with Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson.

Maddeningly, Dawson failed to cite a specific IOC rule or regulation, leaving this writer to plow through the Olympic Charter.

McIlroy has previously identified himself as a British subject and carries a British passport. But the Olympic Charter, Rule 41, Paragraph 1 says this:
However, after having represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships recognised by the relevant IF [International Federation], he may not represent another country unless he meets the conditions set forth in paragraph 2 below that apply to persons who have changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality.
Paragraph 2 of Rule 41 says that a competitor must wait three years before competing for a different nation, although the IOC Executive Board has the authority to shorten or waive this requirment. I am not an attorney, nor have I attended law school. But if Rule 41 holds as a case of stare decisis, McIlroy's "identity crisis" might well be solved for him already.

But whether the controversy goes away after the final decision is anybody's guess.

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Image via Flickr, internetsense

[ comments ]
mjaber says:
Since we are 3 years away, and I don't believe McIlroy has played in the World Cup Of Golf this year, he'll be beyond the 3 years by the time Rio rolls around.
Torleif Sorenson says:
But this would require him to stay out of international competitions in which he would be playing for either Great Britain or Ireland. The Ryder Cup saves him that trouble, but some of these competitions are awfully elite and I suspect that McIlroy wouldn't necessarily want to skip them.
mjaber says:
I still think he should take the high road, say "The Olympics should be kept as an amateur competition", and not play.
bkuehn1952 says:
What is the relevant "International Federation" for professional golf according to the IOC? Is there more than one? The "World Cup of Golf" is a European Tour event, I believe. Is the European Tour the IOC's relevant International Federation?
[ post comment ]
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