Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi were unveiled as Team GB’s first ever joint flag bearers for Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.
The duo will share the honour following a directive by the International Olympic Committee in March and were selected by a Team GB panel following nominations from their respective sports.
Mills won sailing gold in 2016 in the women’s 470 class alongside Saskia Clark, and will defend the title in Tokyo with a new team-mate, Eilidh McIntyre, while Sbihi won gold in the men’s coxless fours in Rio and will compete in the men’s eight in the Japanese capital.
Elsewhere, Andy Murray learned who he would face in the first round as he defends his men’s singles tennis title while, just a day out from the opening ceremony, the show director has been dismissed.
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Mills and Sbihi to fly the flag for Britain
Only around 30 of around 200 Team GB athletes are expected to march at the opening ceremony, with many reluctant to take part because of coronavirus concerns so close to their events. Pickings were therefore slim for those responsible for selecting which man and woman would fly the flags for Britain, but it speaks volumes for the country’s past recent success that the panel was able to select two Olympic champions.
Murray given tough opener
The Scot, who is the only tennis player to win back-to-back gold medals at an Olympics following his triumphs at London 2012 and Rio 2016, will go up against ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. Murray could play second seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals but he has avoided being drawn in the same half as old nemesis, world number one and overwhelming favourite Novak Djokovic. The Serbian, seeking to become the first man in history to win a Golden Slam of all four grand slam titles and Olympic singles gold in the same year, will take on Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien first up. In the women’s draw, home favourite and second seed Naomi Osaka, who will play her first match since withdrawing from the French Open, will play Zheng Saisai of China.
Opening ceremony plunged into further chaos
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto confirmed to media that opening ceremony show director Kantaro Kobayashi has been sacked on the eve of the event due to alleged anti-Semitic jokes he made during a comedy routine in 1998. The show’s composer Keigo Oyamada was forced to resign earlier this week after footage emerged of interviews in which he admitted bullying disabled children during his schooldays. And its executive creative director Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down in March following criticism of his suggestion that plus-size model Naomi Watanabe dress up as a pig during the ceremony.