Women athletes take centre stage at Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 featured flagbearers from 205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) as well as the Refugee Olympic Team, with women athletes often in the leading role.

flagbearers © IOC / Jason Evans

Taking advantage of a new policy by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), 89 per cent of the NOC athlete delegations were led into the Olympic Stadium by both women and men. The mixed gender participationinthat honorary role resulted from the IOC’s decision to allow one female athlete and one male athlete from each NOC to carry the flag jointly during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Summer Games.

Commenting on this achievement, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "We are very encouraged that the IOC's decision to encourage male and female flagbearers has been taken up by so many NOCs at the Opening Ceremony. It sends a strong signal in the promotion of gender equality and was a major step forward for many of the countries."

flagbearers © IOC / Jason Evans

Women Olympians also led five delegations that had only one flagbearer, bringing the overall participation by women in the lead to 91 per cent of all participating NOCs. Male athletes held the flag alone for 14 NOCs, and three smaller NOCs did not have a flagbearer.

Gender equality has been a top priority for the IOC, both on the field of play and in sports leadership roles.

In March 2020, the IOC Executive Board decided that each NOC should have at least one female athlete in Tokyo. As a result, Tokyo 2020 will be the most gender balanced Olympic Games in history.

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