Mary Kom, Manpreet Singh named flag-bearers of Indian contingent at Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony
New Delhi, July 5, 2021
Ace boxer MC Mary Kom and hockey team captain Manpreet Singh were on Monday named flag bearers of the Indian contingent at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on 23rd July.
For the first time in the Olympics, every contingent will have two flag bearers, a man and a woman. This decision was taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also announced that champion wrestler Bajrang Punia will be the flag bearer at the closing ceremony.
Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra was flag bearer at the Rio Olympics while bronze medalist at the Games wrestler Sakshi Malik was given the honour to lead the contingent at the closing ceremony.
The Indian contingent will comprise 201 persons- 126 sports athletes and 75 officials.
As per the IOA press release, the contingent comprises 56 percent men and 44 percent women. It has 78 quota places and will compete in 85 medal positions.
For Mary Kom this will be her second and last Olympics. "Tokyo will be my last Olympics. Age matters here. I am 38 now, going on 39. Four (three) more years is a long time," she told the Olympic Channel.
For Tokyo 2020, the age limit set for boxers was 40. With the Games deferred by a year, it was extended to 41. Having turned 38 this March, Mary Kom will be over the current limit by the time of the next Olympics in Paris 2024. "Pretty sure, I won't be allowed to even if I am willing to carry on till Paris 2024," she said.
Winner of a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, Mary Kom admitted that it means a lot to her to be an Olympian and her career as a boxer would have diminished "if I didn't compete in the Olympics."
"I have been boxing for 20 years. I have participated in many international tournaments. I have been the world champion," she said.
"But I had to wait my turn to take part in the Olympics as women's boxing wasn't in the Games until 2012. Finally, it happened, and I am glad it did. I think the value of my career as a boxer would have diminished if I didn't compete in the Olympics," she added.
Meanwhile Manpreet Singh was thrilled to be named the flag-bearer. "This is amazing, and I am speechless,"
Manpreet is the sixth hockey player to be named the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent for the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games. In the past, Lal Shah Bhokari (1932 ), Major Dhyan Chand (1936) , Balbir Singh Sr (1952 & 1956 ), Zafar Iqbal (1984 ) and Pargat Singh (1996 ) have had this honour
"I think it's a huge honour to be named the flag=bearer for the opening ceremony alongside the incredible Mary Kom. I have always been inspired by her journey in boxing and personally for me, this is a big moment in my career, and it is also a huge moment for hockey.
"I thank the Indian Olympic Association for this great opportunity, and I am looking forward to the responsibility at the opening ceremony in Tokyo," added the charismatic midfielder who will be playing his third Olympic Games.
The Olympics are slated to be held from 23rd July to 8th August.