Rory McIlroy admits the fear of regret fuelled his change of heart over competing at the Olympics.

The Northern Irishman is on home soil for this week's 148th Open Championship, having caused a stir with comments he made at the same major three years ago.

At Royal Troon, ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, McIlroy suggested he would not even bother to watch the golf competition, which ended up being won by Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose.

Despite his dismissive tone then, McIlroy - who initially cited the Zika virus as the reason for his absence from Brazil - had clearly shifted his stance when he addressed the issue at Royal Portrush on Wednesday as he now has Tokyo 2020 firmly in his sights.

"I think personally I needed to do a lot of inner thought and ask, 'Is this important to me? Why do I want to play it? Who do I want to represent?' All that sort of stuff," he said, with his decision apparently complicated by whether he would turn out for Ireland or Great Britain.

"At the start whenever I was thinking of playing the Olympics, I think I let other people's opinions of me weigh on that decision. And at the end of the day, it's my decision. I can't please everyone. 

"The only people that really care about who I play for, who I represent, don't mean anything to me. I don't care about them.

"So at the end of the day, I think with where golf is, with it being part of the Olympic movement, I think if I had to look back on my career and not played in one, I probably would have regretted it. 

"So that was part of the reason I wanted to go, for the experience, as well. It's going to be - it's a wonderful experience. I've never done anything like that before.

"And it's in Japan. I enjoy Japan. I enjoy the people. I enjoy the food. So it will be a nice week."

The 30-year-old is going in search of a second Claret Jug and fifth major, having not won one of golf's four landmark events since 2014.

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will not play for Australia at this year's FIBA World Cup, though he will feature in exhibition games against the United States.

After initially making himself available for August's World Cup in China, Simmons announced on Tuesday that he will skip the tournament and instead focus on the upcoming NBA season with the 76ers.

While he is set to sit out the World Cup, Simmons will travel to Australia for a pair of games against Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17 before facing Team USA in Melbourne on August 22 and 24.

"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," Simmons – who has signed a new five-year contract with the 76ers – said in a statement via Twitter.

"I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming exhibition games.

"I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving close to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new team-mates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."

The 76ers selected Simmons with the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and he has played a large role in the team's resurgence as an oversized, do-it-all playmaker.

Philadelphia put together one of the most talented starting line-ups in basketball last season, featuring Simmons, Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris as they finished third in the Eastern Conference before falling to the Toronto Raptors in the second round.

The 76ers lost Butler and Redick this offseason, but acquired Josh Richardson and Al Horford, giving them tremendous defensive potential.

Jamaican Olympian Twilet Malcolm died on Wednesday morning in Houston, Texas, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 50 years old.

Breakdancing is set to debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics after its inclusion - along with surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing - was approved by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members.

All four sports were proposed by Paris organisers in February, while breakdancing and sport climbing both appeared as medal events at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last year.

Skateboarding, climbing and surfing will make their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020.

"The four sports that Paris has proposed are all totally in line with Olympic Agenda 2020 because they contribute to making the programme more gender balanced and urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation," said IOC president Thomas Bach.

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet has welcomed Kylian Mbappe's interest in playing at the Olympic Games.

France sealed qualification for next year's tournament in Tokyo by reaching the semi-finals of the ongoing European Under-21 Championship.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe was fast-tracked to the senior squad and never played for his country's under-21 team.

But after France clinched their spot he signalled he hopes to feature at the Olympics with a message on social media that simply read: "TOKYO 2020."

During a tour of Japan, Mbappe also outlined his international aims, having already won the World Cup last year in Russia.

"I still have to win the European Championship with France but I'd also like to play at the Olympics," he said.

"Why not go next year to the Games? I've always said it's a dream of mine. But it's not only up to me."

Mbappe's availability poses a question for the FFF given he played no part in the team's qualification for the Games.

But Le Graet indicated Mbappe may be considered despite the Olympics following on after Euro 2020.

"It's nice that Kylian can declare that," Le Graet said to Le Parisien. "It shows that he is interested in all teams in France, and especially in the Olympics. Once again, it's nice.

"I will first meet and ask the question to [France Under-21 coach] Sylvain Ripoll. The decision will belong to him.

"Let's focus on our team that has just managed a lot of tough matches and qualify for the semi-finals. I prefer for the moment that we talk about them."

A national team can select three over-age players for the Olympics, but Le Graet ruled out World Cup winners such as Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann being selected.

"No, it's not realistic," he added. "Those who have earned this qualification deserve to be there. We can have different teams, but for Tokyo, it would surprise me."

The United States and China won the respective men and women's titles at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup finals in Amsterdam.

With the sport set to make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, USA's male team will head into the games as strong contenders for gold after overcoming Latvia 18-14 on Sunday to claim the trophy for the first time.

China's women followed suit, overcoming Hungary 19-13 to lift their first world title.

Poland beat top-seeds Serbia to earn bronze in the men's competition, while France got their hands on the consolation prize in the women's draw by beating Australia.

Several Jamaican Olympians were presented with Olympic pins during a special dinner held in their honour at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston, Jamaica on Tuesday, June 18.

This feature takes a look at the legacy of legendary quarter-miler Michael Johnson.

The Germany women's national team have fired a broadside to their own country ahead of the Women's World Cup, saying: "We play for a nation that does not know our names!"

In a commercial for Commerzbank, Germany's players highlighted the relatively low profile they have in public, despite the superstar status of many members of the men's team.

Lyon midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan appears at the start of the commercial alongside Bayern Munich playmaker Melanie Leupolz and Wolfsburg forward Alexandra Popp, who will all feature in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's squad at the World Cup in France next month.

In the commercial, which was later shared featuring English subtitles by DW Sports, Popp asks: "Do you know my name?"

A narrator continues: "We play for a nation that does not know our names."

The advert also features Turbine Potsdam forward Svenja Huth, Wolfsburg midfielder Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh and Bayern Munich midfielder Sara Dabritz alongside graphics and archive footage illustrating the team's success through the years.

Germany's women won the World Cup in 2003 and 2007, and they have clinched eight European Championship titles between 1989 and 2013, as well as Olympic gold in 2016.

They face China, Spain and South Africa in Group B at the World Cup, with their first game kicking off on June 8.

"It's okay," the advert's narrator continues.

"You do not have to remember our name. Only what we want: to play."

Rory McIlroy has said he is likely to represent Ireland at the 2020 Olympic Games, while Tiger Woods is also keen to participate in Tokyo.

Golf returned to the Olympic programme, after a 112-year absence, in Rio in 2016, but McIlroy was one of several leading players who opted not to play due to concerns over the Zika virus.

Asked about the Tokyo Games in a news conference at this week's US PGA Championship, McIlroy said: "I don't know. More likely than not I will play. I think it would be a great experience.

"It's just one of those things where it's just in the middle of a really busy stretch. But yeah, right now in my mind I'll most likely play."

Prior to his withdrawal from the Rio Olympics, McIlroy announced he would represent Ireland rather than Great Britain.

On Tuesday, he added: "I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland. I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer.

"It's the same as like the rugby players, right? There's players that play for Ulster, but they want to play for Ireland. It's seen as a whole island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.

"I had an unbelievable amateur career, and I don't mean that in terms of results, but I mean that in the experiences I had and the trips that I had and the friendships that I made and the friendships that I still have to this day. That was all because of playing for Ireland and getting close to some of those guys.

"I'm excited to be going to the Olympics. I'm excited to play for Ireland. It's going to be a great experience, and probably a little bit nostalgic because it'll bring me back to 15 years ago, whenever I was doing that with the same people. So it's going to be cool."

In an earlier news conference, resurgent Masters champion Woods said: "Would I like to play in the Olympics? Yes. I've never played in the Olympics, and I'm sure that I won't have many more opportunities going forward at 43 years old now to play in many Olympics.

"Yes, that would be a first for me and something that I would certainly welcome if I was part of the team.

"Getting there and making the team is going to be the tough part. How many events do I play, do I add a couple more to get in? These are all questions that will be answered going forward. I just know that if I play well in the big events like I did this year, things will take care of itself."

Pita Taufatofua hopes to create a splash at a third straight Olympic Games after revealing his plan to compete in kayaking at Tokyo 2020.

The Tongan shot to fame in 2016 when, as his country's flagbearer, he entered the stadium in Rio in traditional dress, including covering his bare torso in coconut oil.

Taekwondo was Taufatofua's sport in Rio, though he was back on a global stage two years later in PyeongChang when he switched seasons, becoming Tonga's first skier at a Winter Olympics.

Now the 35-year-old has set his target on competing at the next Olympics too - only this time in the water.

"I want to be a sprint kayaker," he told BBC Sport.

"It's a sport that's close to my heart as it's what my ancestors did for thousands of years when they colonised the Polynesian islands."

However, a major issue for Taufatofua is a lack of equipment. He used crowd-funding campaigns for previous Olympics but hopes to find "a partner or two" this time who can help finance his grand plan for next year.

"I'm currently training with a recreational kayak which is a completely different size and weight to the professional ones you'll see at the Olympics," he revealed.

"A new kayak could be anything up to $10,000, but I'm also looking for a partner or two that wants to be part of this journey and believes in what we're doing."

SportsMax will provide wire to wire coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  Today officially marks 500 games to the big event. 

To kick things off we take a look at the historic exploits of the Jamaica duo of Authur Wint and Herb McKenley along with T&T javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott.

Members of the SportsMax Team link up at the home of champions for a weekly, lively discussion surrounding the latest happenings in the world of sports.  This week's topics included the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Caribbean stars expected to shine and our favourite Olympic moments.  Join us for SportsMax MidWeek Live, streaming live on Facebook, this and every week. 

Tick tock, tick tock. The Tokyo Olympic clock has hit 500 days to go.

Organizers marked the milestone on Tuesday, unveiling the stylized pictogram figures for next year's Tokyo Olympics. The pictogram system was first used extensively in 1964 when the Japanese capital lasted hosted the Summer Olympics — just 19 years after the end of World War II.

A picture system to illustrate sports events was used in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and 12 years later in London. Other Olympics sporadically used some drawings for the same purpose.

But the '64 Olympics originated the standardized symbols that have become familiar in every Olympics since then.

Japanese athletes posed with the pictograms and their designer, Masaaki Hiromura. Organizers also toured regions that will host Olympic events, including the area north of Tokyo that was devastated by a 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and resulting damage to nearby nuclear reactors.

"They are simple but yet dynamic," Hiromura said, explaining his designs to several hundred people. "These are pictograms that look like they are about to start moving."

Hiromura designed 50 pictograms for 33 sports. Some sports will use more than one pictogram when the Olympic open on July 24, 2020.

The '64 Tokyo Olympics came up with the pictograms, partly because the games were the first in Asia and held in a country where the language was inaccessible to many international visitors.

Unlike other recent Olympics, construction projects are largely on schedule. The new National Stadium, the centrepiece of the games, is to be completed by the by the end of the year at a cost estimated at $1.25 billion.

That's not to say these Olympics are problem free.

Costs continue to rise, although local organizers and the IOC say they are cutting costs — or at least slowing the rise.

As an example, last month organizers said the cost of the opening and closing ceremonies had risen by 40 percent compared with the forecast in 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the games.

USA Cycling has announced Olympic team pursuit silver medallist Kelly Catlin has died.

Catlin was part of the four-woman team at Rio 2016 that finished second behind Great Britain in the gold-medal race.

The 23-year-old won three successive world titles from 2016 in the event, while also forging a career on the road with Rally UHC Cycling.

Her death was confirmed by USA Cycling on Sunday following reports she had passed away on Friday.

"The U.S. cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin, USA Cycling National Team member," said president Rob DeMartini.

"Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Catlin family. This is an incredibly difficult time and we want to respect their privacy.

"The entire cycling community is mourning this immense loss. We are offering continuous support to Kelly's team-mates, coaches and staff. We also encourage all those who knew Kelly to support each other through the grieving.

"We are deeply saddened by Kelly's passing, and we will all miss her dearly. We hope everyone seeks the support they need through the hard days ahead, and please keep the Catlin family in your thoughts."

Rally UHC Cycling also tweeted their condolences following the news of Catlin's death.

"The news of Kelly’s passing has hit the team hard," they said. "Losing an incredible person at such a young age is very difficult. 

"Kelly was our friend and team-mate. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and those who were fortunate enough to know her best."

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