Amidst an onslaught of damaging revelations about the upcoming Summer Olympics, there is finally some good news. Team USA has announced who will be carrying the national flag of their country at the opening and closing ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Historically, there has only been one flag bearer for each country, but in 2021 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) upped the number to two. This was paired with encouragement to select one male and one female delegate, as a symbol of sexual equality. These changes come in the wake of a statement by the IOC celebrating the progress the Olympic Games have made in terms of combating gender inequality:
"With 49 per cent female participation, Tokyo 2020 will be the first gender-equal Olympic Games ever. For the first time, there will be at least one female and one male athlete in each of the teams participating in the Games."
The flag bearers are traditionally chosen by their fellow athletes, and this year's choices are especially excellent. Women's basketball virtuoso Sue Bird has been selected as the female delegate, while zesty baseball player and short-track speed skater Eddy Alvarez is the male representative. This is Bird's fifth Olympic appearance, and could result in her and her teammate Diana Taurasi becoming the first basketball players to ever win five basketball gold medals (they've won gold at all four of their prior appearances).
Meanwhile, Alvarez has the honor of being the first baseball player to ever carry the US flag in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. These historic events help restore confidence in the importance of the Summer Olympics in the wake of a series of COVID-19 infections and the announcement that this year's games will not have in-person spectators.
The Tokyo Olympic Games begin on Friday, July 23, 2021.
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