Rory McIlroy claims he "resents the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in"
The four-time major winner did not compete at Rio 201611:55 Sunday 8 January 2017, 11:55 8 Jan 2017
Rory McIlroy's decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games was one of the most surprising moments in 2016.
At the 2014 Irish Open, McIlroy announced he was to represent Ireland at Rio 2016, despite also being eligible to represent Great Britain. In June he announced his withdrawal from the Games, citing health fears.
"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realize that my health and my family's health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take."
The four-time major winner has opened up on his reasons for not taking part in the Olympic Games, which was won by Great Britain's Justin Rose. In an interview with Paul Kimmage in the Sunday Independent, the Hollywood native said he simply has no attraction to becoming an Olympian.
"Olympic golf to me doesn't mean that much - it really doesn't. I dont get excited by it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine."
Seamus Power (above) and Padraig Harrington represented Ireland at Rio 2016
When golf was announced as an Olympic sport in 2009, McIlroy revealed it put him in an unenviable position. He was in a position to represent two teams, knowing he would let one down, if he chose the other.
"All of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am. 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 piss off the most? I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in - that's my felling towards it - and whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel."
Despite his thoughts on the Olympics, McIlroy admitted he contacted Justin Rose, the Olympic champion, after his win in Rio. He added that Rose replied wondering if McIlroy felt he missed out on a unique experience.
"I said; 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.' I don't know the words to either anthem; I don't feel a connection to either flag; I don't want to be about flags; I've tried to stay away from that."
Golf's place on the Olympic programme is guaranteed in Tokyo at 2020. It looks like McIlroy will not be part of the event once more, in the likely event he is in a position to qualify.
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now