The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has announced basketball player Sue Bird and baseball played Eddy Alvarez as flag bearers for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The IOC have allowed countries for the first time this year to use two flag bearers, so long as one is a man and one is a woman.
The USOPC also said on Wednesday that they expect approximately 230 members of the U.S. delegation to march in the opening ceremony. This will be a much smaller number than usual, with over 600 American athletes attending this summer’s Olympic Games.
Sue Bird is one of the most decorated athletes that will represent the USA in Tokyo as is a 4 time Olympic Champion, 4 time World Champion, 4 time WNBA Champion, and 4 time WNBA All-Star. Bird first competed at the Olympics for the USA back in 2004 in Athens, contributing to the country’s gold medal performance, and then returned in 2008, 2012, and 2016 to pull off another 3 victories.
Eddy Alvarez will join Bird as a flag bearer for the Tokyo Olympics as a member of the USA men’s baseball team. With his upcoming Summer Olympics debut, Alvarez becomes the 135th person in history to compete at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. Alvarez won a silver medal for the USA at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic in the 5000-meter short-track speed skating relay. Following the 2014 Games, Alvarez was signed to the MLB’s Chicago White Sox and in 2019 was traded to the Miami Marlins. On June 21, 2021, Alvarez was named to his first-ever Summer Olympics roster for baseball.
In the history of the Olympic Games, only 2 swimmers have represented the United States as flag bearers at either the closing or opening ceremonies.
The first swimmer to do so was Gary Hall Sr. at the 1976 Montreal Summer Games. 1976 marked Hall’s third straight Olympic Games for the USA following his debut in 1968 and return in 1972. Hall has already made a name for himself heading into the 1976 Games, having won Olympic silver 8 years prior in the 400 IM, and having broken the 200 butterfly world record in 1974. At Munich 1972 Hall collected another Olympic medal in the 200 butterfly.
Hall carried the flag for the US in 1976 in Montreal where he wrapped up his Olympic career with a bronze medal in the 100 butterfly.
The next American swimmer to serve as an Olympic flag bearer was Michael Phelps in 2016 at his 5th and final Olympic Games. Michael Phelps is regarding as one of the greatest athletes of all time and is the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 Olympic medals including 23 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze.
At the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro when Phelps carried the flag for the USA he won his final 6 Olympic medals in the form of 200 fly, 200 IM, 4×100 free, 4×100 medley, and 4×200 free gold, and 100 butterfly silver.
While no US swimmers were selected as flag bearers for the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremonies, there are so far 18 swimmers worldwide who have been confirmed as flag bearers for their respective countries. The opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place on Friday, July 23.
Olympic Swimming Flag Bearers (Tokyo 2020)
- Amel Melih, Algeria
- Cate Campbell, Australia
- Gabriel Castillo, Bolivia
- Karen Torrez, Bolivia
- Elinah Phillip, British Virgin Islands
- Celina Marquez, El Salvador
- Julio Horrego, Honduras
- Laszlo Cseh, Hungary
- Yakov Toumarkin, Israel
- Andrew Chetcuti, Malta
- Gaurika Singh, Nepal
- Paweł Korzeniowski, Poland
- Robert Glinta, Romania
- Arianna Valloni, San Marino
- Hwang Sun-Woo, South Korea
- Mireia Belmonte, Spain
- Issa Al-Adawi, Oman
- Felicity Passon, Seychelles