For just the second time Australia will have two flag bearers at the Olympic Opening Ceremony with four-time Olympians Cate Campbell and Patty Mills to share the honour.
The flag bearer honour is bestowed upon athletes that the Australian Olympic Team believe best embody the spirit and quality of the Olympic Games.
The move to name two flag bearers, one male and one female, is part of the Olympic movement and the IOC’s push to gender equality in the Games.
Campbell and Mills were announced in a virtual broadcast with all athletes watching in using Zoom. The announcement is usually one reserved for the Olympic Village a few days before the Ceremony but COVID-19 would not have allowed it this year.
The choice for the flag bearers came down to Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Australian Olympic Team, Ian Chesterman.
Commenting on the announcement, he said a number of factors were considered including how they would best represent not just the Olympic Team but the nation as a whole.
Campbell has qualified for both the 50m and 100m freestyle in Tokyo and will also be involved in a number of relays.
Tokyo will be Campbell’s fourth Olympics after she made her debut in Beijing 2008.
The 29-year-old has won two Olympic gold medals, the 4x100m freestyle relay in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
She also has one silver and two bronze medals to her name.
“It’s such an honour and a privilege,” Campbell said after the announcement.
“It’s right up there amongst one of the greatest things that has happened to me.
“it’s one thing to represent your country in a sport that you love, it’s another thing to be able to represent your fellow Olympians and the Olympic family you become a part of.”
Patty Mills is a legend of Australian sport, having also been to four Olympics as part of the Boomers, Australia’s Men’s basketball team.
The 32-year-old has forged an incredible career for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA but has always professed his love of playing for his country.
An Olympic medal is the one thing that has eluded the Boomers and the squad, including Mills, is confident that Tokyo will be their chance to finally break their drought.
He has been an incredible advocate for social and racial equality around the world and is one of the most well-respected members of the Australian community.
Mills will also become the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to carry the flag for Australia.
“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man it’s incredible,” Mills said on the announcement.
“A very passionate moment I can feel in my bones. But what does it actually mean to me to be a Flag Bearer?
“My answer comes from how this particular person in past years, in this role, has impacted me. It’s leadership, representation and It’s insanely meaningful. It’s inspiring. It’s symbolic. It’s emblematic.
“But I think my honest answer would be, what does it mean to everyone else? What does it mean to the team? What does it mean to everyone in Australia? The thousands of ex-pats living around the world? What does it mean to the next generation? The people that have come before us?
“Because those are the people I proudly represent and will carry the flag for.
“As the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flag Bearer my connection between our country – the land, the sky, the sea, our culture, our history and this particular moment runs extremely deep.”
The choices are a just reward for two of the most dedicated and decorated Athletes within the Australian Olympic team.
The only other time Australia had two flag bearers was in Moscow 1980. For that Ceremony, Denise Robertson-Boyd and Max Metzker shared the honour.
Ian Chesterman believes Mills and Campbell represent the two perfect athletes to carry Australia’s flag for the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo.
“Patty is an inspiration for all Indigenous Australians,” Chesterman said.
“He holds culture and country close to his heart as a proud Kokatha man (South Australia) and Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man (Torres Strait).
“Importantly, he is someone who turns ideas into action. Through his creation of Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA), there are new opportunities for young Indigenous athletes to forge a successful path in sport and life, embracing their culture and unleashing their potential.”
“And how appropriate when we have a record number of Indigenous athletes representing Australia at these Games in Tokyo, we have such a rousing figure to lead his fellow athletes into this global celebration.
“And who better to share this task than Cate Campbell. Leadership springs not simply from what you say, but ultimately what you do. She is a champion in the pool and out of it.
“Each is a gifted athlete and critically, a natural leader who has the respect of athletes within their chosen sports and beyond. I have no doubt Cate and Patty will have the enthusiastic support of the Australian Olympic Team.”
A number of other names were potentially in the running to be named as Olympic flag bearers for the Tokyo Opening Ceremony.
Although he’s already had the honour in 1996, Andrew Hoy was one name many felt could be in with a chance with Tokyo to be his record eighth Olympic Games.
Dani Stevens overcame an incredible injury setback to book her place at a fourth Olympic Games, a fantastic achievement for any athlete.
Like Hoy, equestrian representative Mary Hanna was also another name mentioned after qualifying for her sixth Olympic Games.
While tennis superstar Sam Stosur was another potential option after being selected for her fifth Olympic Games after making her debut in Athens 2004.
Special mention to table tennis team member Jian Fang Lay who has also qualified for her sixth Olympic Games.
The Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympic Games will take place on Friday, July 23. It is expected to start at 8pm JST ( 9pm AEST ).
HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN SUMMER OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY FLAG BEARERS
|1980||Denise Robertson-Boyd and Max Metzker||Athletics & Swimming|
|1948||Les McKay||Water Polo|
|1924||Edwin Carr, Sr.||Athletics|
AUSTRALIAN ATHLETE OLYMPIAN OATH
The Australian Olympic Committee also took the time to announce a new Olympic Oath that will be said by Aussie athletes ahead of the Games.
It’s something that has been worked on for a number of years in the lead up to the Tokyo Games as an initiative from the AOC Athletes’ Commission.
For the honour of representing Australia
With acknowledgment and respect for the ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories
and their ongoing connection to the continent, water and seas
For the pursuit of excellence in every endeavour
With gratitude to those who make it possible
For the Spirit of sport
For my fellow Olympians whom I respect and support
Since Edwin and forever
Once an Olympian always an Olympian