Basketball’s Ayim, rugby sevens’ Hirayama named Canada’s opening ceremony Olympic flag-bearers


TOKYO – Women’s basketball player Miranda Ayim and men’s rugby sevens player Nathan Hirayama have been named Canada’s flag-bearers for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

The reveal of who would lead Canada into the Games was made Monday morning by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Seeing two tremendous leaders like Miranda and Nathan now ready to guide the way into the Opening Ceremony for Team Canada is something incredibly special,” Eric Myles, chief sport officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said in a release announcing the flag-bearers.

Tokyo will be the third and final Games for Ayim, who made her Olympic debut at London 2012 and announced she would be retiring after Tokyo.

Ayim and the fourth-ranked women’s basketball team start their quest for Canada’s first ever medal in the sport next Monday.

“I feel incredibly honoured to lead Team Canada alongside Nathan into the opening ceremony and to be representing not only my fellow athletes of Team Canada, but also the greater Team Canada: our nation,” Ayim said in the COC’s release. “The past year and a half demanded a high level of teamwork and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast demonstrated togetherness, camaraderie and sacrifice – true team spirit.”

Hirayama is co-captain of Canada’s men’s rugby sevens team and helped the squad capture two gold medals and a silver at the last three Pan American Games.

Canada’s men’s sevens team is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo and starts play Sunday.

“I feel hugely honoured to be nominated to be the flag-bearer alongside Miranda,” Hirayama said in the release. “I’ve been watching the Olympics for my entire life and understand the honour and privilege that comes with being the flag-bearer. It’s something that I’ve never even dreamt of.”

Trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan carried the Canadian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.