For the first time in the country’s Olympic history, two athletes will march with the Canadian flag at the Summer Games Opening Ceremony.
On Monday, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced the honorary athletes who will be flag bearers to signify the start of Canada’s participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The duo of flag bearers are three-time Olympic team member in basketball, Miranda Ayim, and the co-captain of Canada’s men’s rugby sevens team, Nathan Hirayama.
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According to the COC, this will also be the first summer Games where an athlete representing a team sport has been named as Canada’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer.
“Seeing two tremendous leaders like Miranda and Nathan now ready to guide the way into the Opening Ceremony for Team Canada is something incredibly special,” said Eric Myles, COC Chief Sport Officer. “From their combined 28 years representing Canada, to their incredible performances, to carrying the maple leaf at the Opening Ceremony, they stand as testament to what Glory From Anywhere is all about.”
This year, 371 athletes will represent Team Canada, the biggest team since 1984, says Myles. He says this year’s celebration will be special due to the “long road travelled to Tokyo by not only Team Canada, but athletes around the world.”
Ready to hold the 🇨🇦 flag are:
• Miranda Ayim, ⛹️♀️ veteran, making her third straight Olympic appearance
• Nathan Hirayama, co-captain of the men’s rugby 7s team
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) July 19, 2021
Tokyo 2020 will be the third and final Olympic Games for Ayim, who made her Olympic debut at London 2012. She had previously announced she would be retiring post-Tokyo. Ayim has been representing Canada internationally for 15 years and was part of the Canadian team that captured gold on home soil at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Ayim and the women’s basketball team, who currently sit fourth in the FIBA Women’s World Rankings, will vie for Canada’s first-ever medal in women’s basketball.
“I feel incredibly honoured to lead Team Canada alongside Nathan into the Opening Ceremony and to be representing not only my fellow athletes of Team Canada, but also the greater Team Canada: our nation,” said Ayim. “The past year and a half demanded a high level of teamwork and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast demonstrated togetherness, camaraderie and sacrifice — true team spirit.”
Hirayama, who will be making his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, has been a key member of the Canadian sevens teams since joining the team in 2006 as an 18-year-old, says the COC.
He has competed in all three Pan American Games to include rugby sevens, winning two gold and one silver, and in three Commonwealth Games.
This will be the first time Canada has a men’s rugby sevens team at the Olympic Games.
“I feel hugely honoured to be nominated to be the flag bearer alongside Miranda,” said Hirayama. “I’ve been watching the Olympics for my entire life and understand the honour and privilege that comes with being the flag bearer. It’s something that I’ve never even dreamt of. I’m extremely excited to get to Tokyo with my team. We’ve been working hard together for a long time and can’t wait for our opportunity to show the world what we can do.”
A full list of Canadian flag bearers of Olympics past can be found here.
Despite this being Team Canada’s largest team since 1984, Ayim and Hirayama will be leading a smaller contingent than Canadians are used to seeing at the Opening Ceremony due to the strict COVID protocols outlined by Olympic officials.
Athletes can only arrive in the village five days before they compete, which means fewer athletes are in the village and those who are will be on the verge of competing.