Churandy Martina and Skateboarder Keet Oldenbeuving will carry the Dutch flag on Friday, July 23 during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. NOC*NSF announced this evening.
The 37-year-old Martina is starting his fifth Games, and the 16-year-old Oldenbuving is making his debut in a new discipline in the world sporting event.
For the first time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows each country to have the flag carried by two athletes at the opening ceremony. The IOC wants to promote gender equality with this. “I would love to put Churandy and Keet out front as our team’s figure heads,” said Van den Hoogenband. “They will soon be the face of TeamNL that will show the rest of the world what we stand for. A veteran and a rookie together as an inspiration to our team and the Netherlands.”
“I’m really proud,” Martina replied with a big smile. I think it’s a great honor to have my fifth and last Olympics ever. It will be a different party than usual and I hope some athletes will follow. But I’m sure it will be fun. I will raise the flag high.”
Oldenbuffing replied, “I was studying for an exam.” “I hardly knew what was happening to me. But I knew it was very special. I saw it again when I told my parents. This is really very special.”
It is not yet known how many Dutch athletes will enter the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on July 23 behind Martina and Oldenboving. For a portion of TeamNL, games begin before the opening ceremony. For example, soccer players will play their first group game on Wednesday, July 21. Before the ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, the bowlers and some rowers were already in action.
The last flag carrier during the Summer Games is Jeroen Dobeldam. This honor was awarded to the Olympic Champion and the 2000 Olympic Champion in 2016 during the Rio Games. So far two flag carriers have been selected.
The Olympic Games begin on Friday 23 July and end on Sunday 8 August. However, there are already a few football matches scheduled for the opening ceremony. The Lionesses will play their first team match against Zambia on Wednesday, July 21st.
The Netherlands will participate in the Tokyo Olympics with the biggest team ever. The team so far consists of 292 athletes including reserves. That’s a lot more than the team that went to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with 242 athletes. In 2008, the Netherlands was represented in China by 240 athletes.
As in Rio, the team is made up of more women than men. TeamNL qualified in 34 of the 50 Olympic disciplines scheduled in Tokyo. “The biggest team is never an end in itself. But it says something about the breadth of the great Dutch sport,” says head coach Maurits Hendrix, of NOC*NSF. and shows how TeamNL continues to evolve. We are constantly working on expanding our base. We want to reach the top of the world in more sports. The size of this team is a reflection of that.”
Qualifications and nominations are currently underway. The exact composition of the team that TeamNL will travel to Tokyo will be announced later this month.
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