Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi named as Team GB’s first ever joint flag bearers for Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony – but will only lead a group of just 30 into the stadium for scaled back event amid infection fears
- Mills and Sbihi will carry the flags for Team GB at Friday’s opening ceremony
- It’ll be the first time that two athletes have been chosen to carry out the honour
- Olympic champ Mills will become the first female sailor to carry the Union flag
- Londoner Sbihi, who also won gold, is the fourth rower to be given the privilege
- The duo will lead a group of just 30 into the venue for the scaled back event
- Find out the latest Tokyo Olympic news including schedule, medal table and results right here
Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi will carry the flags for Team GB at Friday night’s Opening Ceremony in Tokyo. In a first, two athletes have been chosen to carry out the honour at a scaled back event at the new Olympic Stadium.
Sailor Mills and rower Sbihi were chosen by their respective sports as ‘athletes that exemplify the Olympic Values and uphold the Team GB values of Pride, Responsibility and Unity’ officials said.
The athletes were placed onto a shortlist and chosen by a panel headed by Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England. Cardiff-born Mills, 33, will be defending her women’s 470 title alongside Eilidh McIntyre in the Japanese capital.
Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi will carry the flags for Team GB at the opening ceremony
She will become the first female sailor to carry the Union flag. Londoner Sbihi, also 33, won gold in the men’s four five years ago, is the fourth rower to be given the privilege.
The duo will lead a group of just 30 into the venue. Fears of infection and the likelihood of being contact traced – which could potentially put athletes out of the Games – have seen many reluctant to take part. Representatives from just six sports will attend, with the flags disinfected and social distancing rules in place.
‘To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say,’ said a delighted Mills. ‘When Mark (England) told me I had been chosen, it was completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.
‘It is the greatest honour in my career and I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.’
The duo will lead a group of just 30 into the Olympic Stadium for the scaled back event
Sbihi sounded a similar note. ‘It is such an honour to be invited to be the flagbearer for Team GB. It is an iconic moment within the Olympic Movement – people remember those images.
‘I certainly remember the images of Andy (Murray) from Rio and even before I was a rower I remember seeing Sir Matt (Pinsent) and Sir Steve (Redgrave), so it is something I am incredibly proud of.
‘It is going to be a surreal experience actually going to an Opening Ceremony but this year with the racing schedule it is actually manageable even if I wasn’t a flagbearer.
‘It will be really special and will complete my Olympic puzzle. I’ve won a medal, been to the Closing Ceremony but now to actually turn up at an Opening Ceremony and be at the head of the team alongside Hannah it will be a lifetime memory that I will never forget.’
In a break with tradition, the International Olympic Committee confirmed in March last year that each nation could nominate one male and one female as flagbearers.
Sailor Mills (left), 33, won gold in the Women’s 470 at the Rio Games alongside Saskia Clark
Londoner Sbihi (left), also 33, won gold in the men’s four five years ago at the Rio Games
England said: ‘Having spoken personally with Hannah and Moe, it was clear to see what this honour meant to them. Not only what it meant personally, but also for their team-mates and wider delegation in what has been the most difficult and unprecedented 18 months for everyone in the United Kingdom.‘
Both athletes embody the Values of Team GB and they are thoroughly deserving of this great honour.
‘Hannah and Moe have already created multiple Olympic memories and I have no doubt they will add to these in Tokyo over the next 16 days.’