Published Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Rory McIlroy is about to compete in the Irish Open. (© Getty)
McIlroy will now represent Ireland at the event in Rio.
Announcing the decision ahead of this week's Irish Open in Co Cork, the 25-year-old two-time major winner said he had to do what he felt "most comfortable" with.
"I've been thinking about it a lot," McIlroy told Wednesday's pre-tournament press conference.
"I don't know whether it's been because the World Cup has been in Brazil and I've been thinking a couple of years down the line. Thinking about all the times that I played as an amateur for Ireland and as a boy and everything, I think for me it's the right decision to play for Ireland in 2016."
The Co Down golfer has previously addressed the issue in an open letter, expressing disappointment that it had at times overshadowed his sporting achievements.
Asked on Wednesday if he felt "torn", former world number one McIlroy said: "More worried about what other people would think, rather than me. But you've got to do what's right for yourself and what you feel most comfortable with, and ultimately that was the decision that I made.
"I was always very proud to put on the Irish uniform and play as an amateur and as a boy, and I would be very proud to do it again.
"I've had a lot of time on my own the last few weeks and just been thinking about it a lot.
"It's something that's been quite important to me and something that I needed to make some sort of decision or some sort of stand on it.
"Just weighing up everything, and thinking back about the times that I played for Ireland and won the European Team championship with Ireland, won a lot of great amateur titles representing Ireland, I just thought why change that? Basically it's just a continuation of what I've always done."
Graeme McDowell, who has already committed to playing for Ireland in Rio by contesting last year's World Cup in Melbourne, said he doesn't expect there to be a negative reaction.
He went on: "I think it's great that he's put it to bed at last.
"I think it was a contentious, complicated, complex issue that I suppose could have been settled very quickly with a straight answer.
"I'm glad that he's committed and I'm hoping to be there alongside him. There's no doubt he'll be there. I just have to keep my game ticking over and hopefully I'll be there, as well."
McDowell said Northern Ireland is a "unique scenario" but he views golf as an "all-Ireland sport".
He went on: "I grew up wanting to wear the green blazer with a Shamrock on it and have a green golf bag with the Ireland logo on it. So it makes sense that the best players in Ireland, whether it be north or south of the border, should want to represent Ireland in the Olympic Games.
"It's a very difficult decision, though, because if you want to get religious or political about it, declaring for one or the other, you're going to upset someone theoretically.
"But I don't see there being any problem with this. Anybody that wants to have a problem with it is looking too hard at it really."
Meanwhile, Michael Ring, the Irish Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, has said that he is "delighted" the Holywood golfer has declared for Ireland.
"This is the first time Golf is an event at the Olympics Games and to have a two time major winner declaring for Ireland's is superb and will surely improve our medal hopes," he said.
"I know Rory and the other golfers are busy preparing for the Irish Open at the fantastic Fota Island Resort, and I want to wish him and the other golfers all the best for the weekend, I am sure it will be a success."
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