(Reuters) – The US Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday that basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player Eddie Alvarez will carry the United States flag at this week’s Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.
Four-time Olympic champion Byrd and speed skating silver medalist Alvarez at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games were chosen to carry the flag as the first pair to share the honor of leading the expedition at an Olympics opening ceremony.
Bird, 40, is the first female basketball player selected to carry the flag since Don Staley, the current US women’s basketball coach, in 2004.
“It was such an honor to have been chosen to carry the flag,” Baird said. “I know how proud it is after watching Staley do it in 2004.”
“I feel very proud that my colleagues chose me to represent the entire expedition. This pride will last as long as I live.”
Alvarez, who is of Cuban descent, has Olympic experience before participating in the Tokyo Games after winning a silver in Sochi.
“My family sacrificed a lot to get to this moment and to carry the United States flag,” Alvarez said.
“I am so grateful for the time I spent with the USA Speed Skating, the USA Baseball, and all of my teammates, and I am honored to carry the USA flag at the Tokyo Olympics.”
The United States will send a team of 613 athletes to the Tokyo Summer Games in the second largest expedition in the country’s Olympic history after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when it competed with a team of 648 athletes.
(Prepared by Ashraf Hamed for the Arab Newsletter)