Mills and Sbihi named as Team GB's joint Olympic flagbearers

·2-min read
Rio Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Moe Sbihi will carry the British flag at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Rio Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Moe Sbihi will carry the British flag at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

From James Toney in Tokyo

Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Mohamed Sbihi will make history as Great Britain's first joint flagbearers at the Olympic opening ceremony in Tokyo.

Mills becomes the first woman sailor to be given the honour while Sbihi, follows fellow rowers Sir Matthew Pinsent, Sir Steve Redgrave and Jack Beresford in leading out the team.

“To be asked to carry the flag for Team GB at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a sentence I ever thought I’d say,” said Mills, who will compete with new partner Eilidh McIntyre in the women's 470 class.

“It's completely overwhelming and when I had a moment to think about what it meant I got pretty emotional.

“It is the greatest honour in my career and I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation.”

Sbihi, who won bronze in the men's eight at London 2012 and gold in the four in Rio, also spoke of his pride at being recognised by a panel of sports representatives, chaired by Team GB chef de mission Mark England.

“It is an iconic moment within the Olympic Movement – people remember those images,” added Sbihi, who will lead the team out live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“I certainly remember the images of Andy Murray from Rio and even before I was a rower I remember seeing Sir Matt and Sir Steve, so it is something I am incredibly proud of.

“It is going to be a surreal experience actually going to an opening ceremony but this year with the racing schedule it is actually manageable even if I wasn’t a flagbearer.

“It will be really special and will complete my Olympic puzzle. I’ve won a medal, been to the closing ceremony but now to actually turn up at an opening ceremony and be at the head of the team alongside Hannah it will be a lifetime memory that I will never forget.”

It is expected less than ten percent of the 376-strong British team will take part in the ceremony, which has been mired in controversy in recent days.

First, musical contributor Keigo Oyamada was forced to resign - just two days before the event - after admitting to bullying a disabled child.

And today ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi was axed after a video surfaced of him making anti-Semitic comments during a stand-up comedy routine.

They follow creative director Hiroshi Sasaki out the door, who resigned in March after making inappropriate comments about the weight of a Japanese celebrity, suggesting he was going to dress her as the 'Olympig' as part of the show.

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.