Seattle Storm star Sue Bird and Miami Marlins infielder Eddy Alvarez have been chosen by their peers as flag bearers for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics. Bird is competing in her fifth Olympics in search of as many gold medals. Alvarez won a silver medal as a speedskater in the 2014 Olympics.
It’s the first time the U.S. will have two flag bearers after an International Olympic Committee change mandated each nation have one male and one female representative. Alvarez is the first baseball player to serve as flag bearer for the U.S. Bird is the second women’s basketball player after Team USA’s head coach Dawn Staley in 2004.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected the flag bearer for Team USA,” Bird said in a release. “I know what that means, because I got to witness Dawn Staley go through it when she was selected in 2004. It’s an honor that is bigger than the moment in that you’ve been selected by your fellow Team USA athletes to represent the entire delegation, and it will last forever. Also, in the moment, I got to witness what it was to lead Team USA into the Opening Ceremony, and it’s an incredible feeling and once again, such a huge honor. Also, I know this isn’t about me. This is about all the players who either came before me and set the tone for what the USA Basketball women’s program is now, and also the players that I’ve been fortunate enough to play with. So, it’s not just about me. It’s representing all of them.”
The women’s basketball team — in search of its seventh consecutive gold medal — celebrated Bird’s news as a team:
What better way to start your fifth Olympic Games than as @TeamUSA's Opening Ceremony Flag Bearer!
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 21, 2021
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named as one of the flag bearers by my fellow Team USA athletes for the Opening Ceremony,” said Alvarez in a release. “Being a first-generation Cuban-American, my story represents the American Dream. My family has sacrificed so much for me to have the opportunity to wave this flag proudly. I am grateful for my time with US Speedskating and USA Baseball, as well as for all of my teammates, and I am humbled to lead Team USA into the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
The opening ceremony will air live at 6:55 a.m. ET on Friday, July 23. The primetime presentation of the ceremony will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.