Indian Olympic Association has announced that 6-time world champion boxer MC Mary Kom and men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh will be India’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
In a first, India is having two flag-bearers — one male and one female — at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to ensure “gender parity”.
The Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23 and over 100 Indian athletes would be gunning for podium finishes at the postponed showpiece.
Earlier last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had made provisions for flag-bearers from both genders at the opening ceremony.
“The IOC Executive Board 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,” chief Thomas Bach had said.
IOA also revealed that wrestler Bajrang Punia will be the flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Games on August 8.
The IOA further said that the Indian contingent will have “around 201” members which will include 126 athletes and 75 officials.
Mary Kom is a six-time boxing world champion and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the Asian qualifiers in March last year. The 38-year-old has said that Tokyo 2020 will be her last appearance at the Games.
The Tokyo Games will be Manpreet’s third appearance at the quadrennial event. He took over as captain of the Indian team in 2017 and has led them to victory in the 2017 Asia Cup, 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, and the FIH Series Final in 2019. The team also reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Bajrang won bronze at the 2018 World Championships and bronze in the 2019 competition, the latter of which helped him qualify for the Olympics. The 27-year-old also has two Asian Championships gold medals to his name and won gold at the 2018 Asian Games. Bajrang is one of the leading contenders to win individual gold for India in Tokyo.