More than two weeks after infamously telling a London newspaper that Rory McIlroy would be the country’s flag-bearer if he chose to represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympics, Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey now says that he was misquoted and believes the world No. 1 should be “left alone.”
In the original story, of course, Hickey was quoted as saying, “I will say to Rory that if he declares for Ireland, then he will automatically put himself in pole position to carry the Irish tricolor into the Olympic stadium in Rio.
“Can you just imagine what something like this would do for Rory McIlroy? It would suddenly catapult him into the realms of being one of the most instantly recognizable sporting faces on the planet. Because make no mistake about it, that’s what carrying the flag does for people.”
This week, though, Hickey told Insidethegames that the Telegraph’s Justin Doyle, the writer of the original Oct. 9 piece, has since apologized for the story.
As Hickey then explained, “When he asked if Rory would be considered to carry the flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremony if he chose Ireland, I answered: ‘Of course he would, at the level he is at, he would be a strong contender.’
“But I explained that the particular decision is never made until about a week before the Games. He then sold the story straight to the Daily Telegraph and the Irish Independent but with false comments. It spread from there. I never used the expression pole position that he used, and I certainly never used that ridiculous line that this would make McIlroy more famous.”