Team GB will have male and female flag bearers at the Tokyo Games for the first time in Olympic history. The move, which has been encouraged by the International Olympic Committee as part of its plans for gender equality, has been embraced with enthusiasm by the British Olympic Association.
Only three British women have carried the flag at the opening ceremony of a summer Games – the swimmer Anita Lonsbrough in Tokyo 1964, the equestrian rider Lucinda Green at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and the judoka Kate Howey in Athens 2004.
But the Team GB chef de mission, Mark England, said he hoped the change for this summer would be a “moment” for women Olympians and leave a “real hallmark legacy message”, adding: “We want to celebrate the return of British athletes to Tokyo after 1964.”
“Anita Lonsbrough carried the flag in 1964 and was the first woman flag bearer for Team GB. That team had some real hallmark legacy messages. That was a moment for women and I’m hopeful that the class of Tokyo 2020 will be able to leave a similar mark.”
England said it was too early to know who would be selected to carry the flags, given that fewer Team GB stars will be in the Olympic village for the start of the Games than normal. But in the past some of Britain’s greatest sports stars – including Andy Murray, Chris Hoy and Lynn Davies – have been given the honour.
“The nominees come from the athletes themselves but for the first time national Olympic committees are being encouraged to have two flag bearers,” England said. “I will have to see how many are in the village by that time. But one male and one female is the advice the NOCs have been given.”