TOKYO — Team USA has announced the athletes who serve as flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday: basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez.
Bird and Alvarez are the first duo to share the honor of leading the U.S. delegation into the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. They were chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA athletes.
Last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) amended its policy to allow national teams to appoint two flag bearers, one female and one male, in promotion of gender equality. The IOC also required that at least one male and one female athlete be included in each of the 206 national delegations that will compete in Tokyo.
Of the 613 athletes who were named to the U.S. Olympic Team, more than 230 are set to walk in Friday’s Opening Ceremony.
Bird is a four-time Olympic champion and she’ll be in pursuit of her fifth straight gold in Tokyo. The 40-year-old made her debut in Athens in 2004. She holds a combined nine Olympic and FIBA World Cup medals, which is the most of any basketball athlete, male or female, across the globe. She is also a four-time WNBA champion and is currently the defending league champion with the Seattle Storm.
As for Alvarez, the 31-year-old is competing on the U.S. Olympic baseball team, but he actually earned a silver medal in speedskating in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. He currently plays in the Miami Marlins Minor League system. He’ll be the first athlete from the sport of baseball to carry the U.S. flag in the Opening Ceremony.
As upcoming host countries, the U.S. and France will be two of the final three countries to walk in the Opening Ceremony, with host country Japan closing out the event.