Sascoc yet to appoint flag bearers for Tokyo Games

'Delay caused by travelling schedule of athletes'

Sascoc acting CEO Ravi Govender.
Sascoc acting CEO Ravi Govender.
Image: Gallo Images

With less than two weeks to go before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is yet to announce flag bearers.

Sascoc acting CEO Ravi Govender said the travelling schedule of athletes is to blame for the delay.

The announcement of flag bearers will depend on the availability and willingness of the athletes, according to Govender.

Govender said he will travel to Tokyo on Friday, while Sascoc president Barry Hendricks will join him a day later. Govender said Hendricks will announce the flag bearers before his departure for the Olympics.

Govender described the Olympics as abnormal and that they have to plan around the schedule of athletes to get everything done.

“You must understand these Olympics are abnormal. Athletes are travelling in groups, and they cannot stay in Japan after their events. They have a day or two to return home after their events. The availability of the flag bearer will depend on the event and the willingness of the athletes. For instance, if the athletes have an event tomorrow, I doubt they would agree to carry the flag a day before their event," Govender told Sowetan yesterday.

He said they have the names of potential two flag bearers and that Hendricks will reveal them in a day or two. Swimming star Tatjana Schoenmaker and the poster boy of athletics, Akani Simbine, are favourites to take the honours.

Sascoc is determined to make history by announcing two flag bearers to balance the issue of gender equity. Schoenmaker and Simbine are medal prospects and carry the requirements of the Sascoc board.

Hendricks explained the process and qualities of a flag bearer. “The flag bearer represents the country. It is a person who the other athletes regard as a leader and who leads by example. The chosen athlete must represent the aspirations of South Africa. It must be an athlete of high stature, integrity, and that person will lead team South African at the Olympics during the opening ceremony in Japan on 23 July."

The Sascoc board is working with athletes' commission chairperson Khotso Mokoena to identify the flag bearer.

 “We take the issue of the flag bearer seriously and consult with everyone to come up with the best decision," added Hendricks.

The Sascoc media team will leave for Japan today to join the athletes at their Olympic village in Tokyo.

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