(July 23, 2021) – Carry your national flag in the Olympic stadium. Is there a greater honor in sport? For the chosen few who become their nation’s flag bearers, tonight’s opening ceremony will be one of the most special of their lives.
The sport of sailing is well represented among the list of flag bearers. A male and female athlete from each nation will share the flag, in most cases athletes from different sports. But for Argentina, it is the tight-knit crew of the Nacra 17, made up of Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli, who will run the Olympic track side by side.
“It is an incredible honor for us, for this and for me to have been nominated to carry the flag,” said Lange, 59 years old sailing competitor at Tokyo 2020. “We are so privileged and so much. grateful to the people. who have worked with us, all of our teammates and coaches who brought us to this incredible opportunity. We are very grateful to the people who have brought us to this point in our sporting career – my sons, my family, my friends, my coaches – they were so special to me and I think they will carry this flag with us. ”
Not far behind the Argentinian gold medalists of the Nacra 17 in Rio will be the 2016 bronze medalists of the same event, the Austrians Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank. Although they are now sailing in different boats – Zajac continues in the Nacra 17, Frank now in the 49erFX single scull – tonight the former teammates are gathered to run the Austrian flag into the stadium.
“The pandemic and its aftermath undoubtedly makes the Tokyo Olympics very special,” Zajac said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I consider it an honor and a great privilege to march with the red-white-red flag with my former teammate Tanja.
“I feel a connection to the Olympic movement, not just because of the medal I won in 2016; it brings strong emotions and a lot of very good friendships. To be able to represent one’s homeland and at the same time be part of this movement is in my eyes the greatest thing an athlete can accomplish.
Frank added: “For me, carrying the Austrian flag at the opening ceremony is a very big honor – and also a dream come true. I am very grateful that the Olympic Games open with an atmospheric ceremony and that I have been chosen to represent our country as a standard bearer. I can’t wait and I am also very happy to be able to live this special moment with Tom.
Hannah Mills, looking for another 470 women’s medal to add to her silver and gold from the last two Games, was overwhelmed with emotion when she learned that she would represent Great Britain in the ceremony tonight. “Carrying the GB team flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics is not a phrase I would have ever thought to say,” said Mills. “It is the greatest honor of my career and I hope more than ever that these Games can uplift our country and provide incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.”
Swedish Finnish Max Salminen, who won Olympic gold in the Star Keelboat in London 2012, said that such an invitation should not be refused, even when it arrives so unexpectedly. “I was told yesterday [he said on 22 July] by picking up my breakfast at the Olympic Village.
“At first the notice was really sudden and short, but there is only one answer to this kind of question. It is a huge honor for me, especially with the motivation I received from the Swedish Olympic Committee, that I was chosen not only because of my results, but also because I was seen as a role model for the athletics and fair play. For me, this is one of the greatest recognitions you can get as an athlete and Olympian.
Enrique Arathoon will compete in the Laser Men’s Dinghy for El Salvador. “I think it’s a great responsibility because I carry the hopes of many Salvadorians and it’s a great honor. This is the icing on the cake. It’s not part of our dream, but it’s a really special thing that makes it all so much more special.
For most Olympic athletes, being named the flag bearer is a unique experience, but for two Laser Sailors it will be the second time they have received this honor. Set to compete in his fourth Games, Juan Ignacio Maegli carried the Guatemalan flag through the nine-year-old stadium in London 2012 and is back tonight to start over. His sister, Radial sailor Isabella Maegli, who will carry the flag at her very first Olympic Games, will share the duties of flag bearer with Juan.
Five years ago Rodney Govinden carried the Seychelles flag to Rio and found out earlier than most that he would do the same again. “I was briefed by the Seychelles Olympic Committee just prior to the kickoff meeting we had with the President at State House.
“It is a great honor to be the flag bearer of my country, especially since this is my second time after the Olympic Games in Rio. I am very happy and proud to lead the team again.
Another sailor from an African nation tonight will be Matias Montinho who has been appointed to carry the Angolan flag around the stadium.
2008 Beijing 49er Olympic champion Jonas Warrer will spark many memories among his compatriots at home as they watch him carry their flag. Now 42, he is one of the oldest competitors in the athletic single scull category and is happy to still be competitive so many years after winning this extraordinary gold medal.
“I’m extremely happy doing what I’m doing – sailing the 49er. This is my main driving force, I love sailing the 49er. Winning in 2008 was obviously an incredible experience. Everything went our way at the end. Reaching your childhood dream goal was fantastic. Coming back to Denmark – where everyone had followed the drama with our broken mast, taking the Croatian boat and the protests – was amazing. Everyone suddenly knew about Olympic sailing and what a 49er was. Yet I meet people who are moved by it and who knew exactly where they were and what they were doing.
“Now I’m sailing with Jakob, and I think our teamwork and our trip has been really good. We enjoyed it and had fun until the end – that’s important to me. And we have improved and developed a lot.
“I am extremely honored to be the flag bearer. To be part of this small group of people who have done this is huge. The Danish Olympic team chef de mission told me a few months ago. I had to keep it a secret until it was announced. I remember when I told my kids about it I could see in their eyes that they were proud – it meant a lot to me.
World Sailing President Quanhai Li was quick to congratulate all the athletes, saying, “It is a real honor for any athlete to fly their national flag during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. World Sailing is delighted for the sailing athletes who have been selected for this prestigious honor. We know they will proudly represent themselves, their nation and sport to the world watching them. Congratulations to them all.
“United by emotion”, the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will begin at 8:00 p.m. JST at the Olympic Stadium.
At the opening ceremony, Tokyo 2020 will aspire to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, to express its gratitude and admiration for the efforts that the people of the world have made together over the past year, and also to bring a sense of hope for the future.
Tokyo 2020 hopes it will be an experience that shows how much we all have the ability to celebrate differences, empathize, and live side by side with compassion for one another.
Tokyo 2020 details – Race information – Entry list – How to watch
The racing program is staggered for the ten sailing events from July 25 to August 4.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s single-seater sailing dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s single-seater sailing dinghy – ILCA 6
Men’s two-seater sailing dinghy – 470
Women’s two-seater sailing dinghy – 470
Men’s single scull – 49er
Women’s single scull – 49erFx
Single-person heavy dinghy for men – Finn
Windsurfing for men – RS: X
Windsurfing for women – RS: X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021
Source: Andy Rice – World Sailing