In a first, India might have two flag-bearers -- one male and one female -- at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to ensure "gender parity", Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra told PTI on Tuesday.
The names will be revealed "soon", Batra said. "It's not yet decided. The matter is still in consultation stage but there is a possibility that this year there would be two flag-bearers -- one male and one female for gender parity," Batra said.
The country's lone individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23 and over 100 Indian athletes would be gunning for podium finishes at the showpiece, which was postponed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its executive board meeting last year, the International Olympic Committee had made provisions for flag-bearers from both genders at the opening ceremony. "...the IOC Executive Board also decided that there should be – for the first time ever – at least one female and one male athlete in every one of the 206 teams and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team participating at the Games of the Olympiad," IOC chief Thomas Bach had said.
"Additionally, we have also changed the rules to allow NOCs to nominate a female and a male athlete to jointly bear their flag during the Opening Ceremony. We encourage all NOCs to make use of this option." Great Britain has already announced that it will have two flag-bearers for the event.