Tokyo Olympics: Host Japan name basketball player Hachimura Rui and wrestler Susaki Yui as flagbearers: Basketball player Hachimura Rui and wrestler Susaki Yui have been named as Japan’s flagbearers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) announced the two stars will lead out the host nation’s 600-strong team at the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on July 23.
For the first time in Olympic history, both a male and female flagbearer, from each participating country, will take their place in the ceremony. Hachimura was born in Toyama Prefecture to a Japanese mother and a Beninese father and is a professional basketball player with Washington Wizards in the United State. The 23-year-old was the first Japanese basketball player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. He joined the Japanese national basketball squad at the 2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championship in Iran, where he averaged 22.8 points, which helped the team to come third. In a qualification round for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Hachimura scored 25 points to help Japan defeat Iran 70-56.
“The Tokyo Olympics is the stage I’ve always dreamed of,” Olympics.com quoted the 6ft 8in forward as a saying. “I am very honoured to have such a big role. Your health and safety are our top priorities right now, but I hope that many people, including children all over Japan, will take this opportunity to watch the performance of my teammates and myself nationwide during the Olympic Games. It would be great if they will be more even more people interested in basketball and sports.”
Susaki Yui is a gold medal hopeful after twice being crowned world champion in women’s wrestling — in 2017 (48kg) and 2018 (50kg). The 22-year-old, who was born in Chiba Prefecture, has also won gold at the junior world championships in 50kg in 2018 and 2019 and, as a teenager was a three-time cadet world champion. The sports science student at Waseda University in Tokyo will be among those to watch in the 50kg weight class at Tokyo 2020.
“When I was a child, I longed for the Olympics after watching Yoshida Saori [three-time Olympic champion from Japan]. In 2013, when I left my family and joined the JOC Elite Academy Program, it was decided that the Olympic Games would be held in Tokyo, and I have always wanted to win a gold medal. I am grateful to be able to stand on the Olympic stage under such circumstances, and I will do my best to fulfill the role I have been given.”
The JOC announced last week that sprinter, Yamagata Ryota, 29, who holds the Japanese national record in the men’s 100 metres, will captain the Japanese team with table tennis player, Ishikawa Kasumi, 28, as the vice-captain.