Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey claims he was “completely misquoted” as saying that Rory McIlroy would be “in pole position” to carry the triolour at the Opening Ceremony at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio if he chose to compete for Ireland.
According to an exclusive piece by Tom Degun in insidethegames.biz, the OCI boss also denies saying that carrying the Irish flag “would suddenly catapult him into the realms of being one of the most instantly recognisable sporting faces on the planet.”
Hickey’s hair-raising comments were published in a Daily Telegraph piece that was syndicated widely and subsequently picked up by news agencies worldwide.
Claiming he was “completely and utterly misquoted” he told insidethegames.biz:
“When he asked if Rory would be considered to carry the flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremony if he choose Ireland I answered: ‘Of course he would, at the level he is at, he would be a strong contender.’
“But I explained that particular decision is never made until about a week before the Games….
“I never used the expression pole position that he [the journalist] used and I certainly never used that ridiculous line that this would make McIlroy more famous.
“I think I was quoted as saying that if McIlroy carries the flag, he would be one of the most famous people on earth. What a lot of rubbish.
“That comment in particular is so stupid. He is already famous. So I’m using every opportunity to correct it…..
“My stance on this is the same as it has always been; that McIlroy should be left alone and he should be allowed to relax. He has three years to think about it and whatever he decides will be respected by all.”
Journalist Justin Doyle, who hails from Mullingar, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Hickey’s remarks.
Contacted later, Justin Doyle had no comment on Mr Hickey’s remarks.