Olympics-Some 51 Australians to march in Tokyo opening ceremony: Coates

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International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President John Coates arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo
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(Reuters) - As many as 51 Australian athletes will march at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23 but coaches and officials will not join them, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said on Friday.

Australia's contingent will be led by basketball player Patty Mills and Olympic medal-winning swimmer Cate Campbell, who will be carrying the country's flag at the Olympic Stadium.

There had been speculation the team would be cut to the bare bones with just a token party for each country.

"As of right now, we think 51 athletes, including Patty Mills and Cate Campbell, will march in the opening ceremony," Coates told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"This compares favourably to what happened in Rio where we had numbers in the mid 70s. In previous Games... we used to be able to fill spare places with coaches and officials... that is not happening this time."

Coates, who is also the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president and head of the coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, said he had seen the story book for the opening ceremony and could not wait to watch the event.

"(Even) an old bloke like me was reduced to tears. You might not be able to shout or clap but you will be able to cry," he added.

While the Olympics will take place without spectators in host city Tokyo due to a state of emergency in the capital, fans are expected to turn up in numbers for baseball and softball at the stadium in Fukushima.

"Fukushima, which is hosting our girls in the first softball game of the Olympics against Japan, they are still able to have 10,000 at that venue," Coates said.

"And if the (COVID-19) situation improves significantly we can review numbers again."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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