The six-time world boxing champion M C Mary Kom and men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh will be the Indian flag bearers at the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics which will be held on 23rd July, 2021. Wrestler Bajrang Punia, a silver medallist at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships will be flag bearer at the closing ceremony on 8th of August, 2021. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has communicated the decision in this regard to the Organizing Committee of the Games.
In a first, India is having two flag-bearers, one male and one female at the upcoming Tokyo Games to ensure ‘gender parity’. This was recently informed by IOA chief Narinder Batra. The Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23rd and over 100 Indian athletes would be gunning for podium finishes at the showpiece, which was postponed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contingent comprises 56 percent male and 44 percent female athletes. The contingent has 78 quota places and will compete in about 85 Medal positions.
At its executive board meeting last year, the International Olympic Committee had made provisions for flag-bearers from both genders at the opening ceremony. “The IOC Executive Board also decided that there should be for the first time ever at least one female and one male athlete in every one of the 206 teams and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team participating at the Games of the Olympiad,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said.
Mary Kom told PTI that it would be a huge moment for her and honoured as well to get this opportunity. “It would be a huge moment for me given that it is my last Olympics. Who knows I might even get emotionally overwhelmed. I am honoured to get this opportunity of leading the team out during the opening ceremony. It would be an added motivation. I promise to do my best for a medal,” she said.
After hearing IOA’s decision, 29-year-old Manpreet Singh mentioned that it is an honour to be the flag bearer alongside Mary Kom. “I think it’s a huge honour to be named the flag bearer for the opening ceremony alongside the incredible Mary Kom. I have always been inspired by her journey in boxing and personally for me, this is a big moment in my career, and it is also a huge moment for hockey. I thank the Indian Olympic Association for this great opportunity, and I am looking forward to the responsibility at the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo,” he said.