Paris Olympics 2024: Sharath Kamal To Be India's Male Flag Bearer, Mary Kom Appointed Chef De Mission

Paris Olympics 2024: Sharath Kamal To Be India's Male Flag Bearer, Mary Kom Appointed Chef De Mission

The IOA has not yet named a female flag bearer but sources said that the sports body will not "compromise" on gender equality and will select a woman athlete later since many quotas for the Games, starting July 26, are yet to be filled.

PTIUpdated: Friday, March 22, 2024, 12:48 AM IST
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Veteran table tennis player and reigning CWG champion Sharath Kamal will be India's flag bearer at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games while legendary boxer MC Mary Kom was on Thursday appointed the chef de mission of the country's contingent.

Sharath Kamal symbolises "the unity and spirit of our contingent as they compete on the Olympic stage", the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) said in a statement while making the announcement.

The IOA has not yet named a female flag bearer but sources said that the sports body will not "compromise" on gender equality and will select a woman athlete later since many quotas for the Games, starting July 26, are yet to be filled.

No change in policy

"There is no change in policy. We will wait for official confirmation of qualifications for women athletes before announcing the name. There won't be any compromise on that," said the IOA source.

The IOC, in 2020, had changed its protocol to allow one female and and one male athlete of each NOC to bear the flag jointly during the opening ceremony of the Summer Games.

Past flag bearers

Mary Kom and former hockey skipper Manpreet Singh were India's flag bearers at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Hockey player Harmanpreet Singh and boxer Lovlina Borgohain were India's flag bearers at the Hangzhou Asian Games, last year.

Meanwhile, Sharath Kamal expressed his elation at getting selected for the honour.

"It has been an unbelievable three weeks. From not even sure of Olympic berth to playing the way I did in Singapore last week, jumping 54 spots in the rankings to being named India's flag bearer," Kamal told PTI.

"It is the biggest honour and fairytale stuff considering it is going to be my fifth and last Olympics. Also, not many TT players have got that honour, globally. I just got a call from IOA and I could not believe it."

Kamal was India's flag bearer at the closing ceremony of 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where he won three gold medals.

Recently, the Indian men's and women's team had qualified for the team events of Olympics for the first time by the virtue of their rankings.

The legend of Mary Kom

Six-time World Champion Mary Kom, bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, will be assisted by luger Shiva Keshavan, who has been appointed the deputy chef de mission.

"Mary Kom's unparalleled dedication to sports and inspiring journey makes her a natural choice to guide and mentor our athletes at the Olympics," IOA said.

"Keshavan, a former Olympian in luge, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to support the team's management and coordination efforts."

Olympic bronze medallist in rifle shooting Gagan Narang will oversee India's operations at the shooting range, which is very far from the main venues.

Largest shooting contingent

India will be sending its largest-ever shooting contingent to Paris with 19 quotas already in pocket.

"His (Narang's) meticulous approach and understanding of athletes' needs will ensure a conducive environment for our shooters," the statement added.

"These appointments represent a blend of experience, expertise, and leadership that will contribute significantly to the success of our athletes on the global stage, the statement added.

Commenting on the appointments, IOA president PT Usha, said, "We are delighted to have such a distinguished and capable team of officials leading our contingent for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Their expertise, dedication and passion for sports will undoubtedly inspire our athletes to achieve their best and make the nation proud."

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