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Flying the flag for rugby sevens at the Olympic Games
Four countries have chosen rugby sevens players as flag bearers at Friday’s opening ceremony in Tokyo.
A year later than originally planned, it is finally time for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to begin.
The coronavirus pandemic caused a one-year postponement of the biggest sporting event in the world but, on Friday, the competing nations will gather inside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo for the opening ceremony.
Scheduled to start at midday (BST), the opening ceremony will last for roughly three hours, and as is the tradition, teams will be led around the track by flag bearers.
Each flag bearer has been chosen either by the team's National Olympic Committee or by the athletes themselves and rugby sevens will be well represented.
great privilege and honour to represent my country 🇰🇪 https://t.co/heFd9XoHNX— Andrew Noel Amonde (@andrewopede) July 16, 2021
At Rio in 2016, only Fiji’s rugby sevens captain Osea Kolinisau was handed the honour, and it turned out to be an inspired choice with the man known as ‘Oscar’ leading his team to the gold medal.
But five years on, four rugby players from different countries will be at the forefront of the parade of nations.
With rugby sevens so young as an Olympic sport, that is an impressive number and helps to reflect how well it was received on its Games debut in Rio de Janeiro.
This year Fiji asked one of their women's players to carry the flag, Rusila Nagasau, while Canada’s choice is Nathan Hirayama, another hugely influential figure on the World Series.
Hirayama is Canada’s most-capped player and leading points scorer and described being chosen as flag bearer as “a massive honour.”
Sarah Hirini, the captain of pre-tournament favourites the Black Ferns Sevens, will perform the role for New Zealand.
In a recent interview with World Rugby, Hirini admits she was completely taken aback by the request.
“I’m still absolutely speechless by the whole situation. Since I've been told it's just been pretty crazy,” Hirini told World Rugby.
“But it's a huge honour. It's a really, really massive thing for me and my family and I'm just really excited that I, one, get to represent my country again but, two, to be able to lead my country on the biggest stage possible.”
Making up the quintet of flag bearers from rugby sevens is Kenyan great, Andrew Amonde.
Given Kenya’s prowess in athletics, to have someone chosen from rugby sevens is quite a feat for the sport.
Like Hirini, Amonde will captain his country at the Olympics.
Read more: Fiji sevens coach Gareth Baber on pressure to “front up and win gold” at Tokyo Olympics >