Tokyo 2020: Chinese volleyball captain Zhu Ting to become first woman to carry China’s flag at Summer Olympics

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Chinese volleyball star Zhu Ting has been named as the country’s first female flag-bearer at the Summer Olympics.

Zhu Ting, the captain of the women’s team, will jointly carry the national flag with male taekwondo champion Zhao Shuai at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games on Friday.

Zhu is an icon of Chinese volleyball, who has won multiple most valuable player awards at different levels of competition since making her debut for the national under-18 team in 2011.

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Widely regarded as one of the world’s best players, she led the national team to success at the 2016 Olympics and 2019 World Cup and she is now a deputy of the National People’s Congress.

Zhao Shuai won a gold medal in taekwondo in Rio. Photo: Getty Images
Zhao Shuai won a gold medal in taekwondo in Rio. Photo: Getty Images

Zhao made history by scoring the country’s first gold medal in the men’s taekwondo at the Rio Olympics.

China has usually chosen male basketball players, including NBA star Yao Ming, to carry the flag at the Olympic opening ceremony, but this year the men’s team failed to qualify.

Two women, the speed skaters Yang Yang and Wang Meng, carried the flag at the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies in 2006 and 2018.

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This year will be the first time that teams are allowed to select both male and female flag-bearers as part of the International Olympic Committee’s efforts to increase gender equality.

This year China’s Olympic team has more than twice as many women as men, with 298 female athletes compared with 133 male competitors.

Its 431 athletes, the largest team sent to an overseas games, will be competing in a record 225 events.

NBA star Yao Ming carried the flag at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Photo: Getty Images
NBA star Yao Ming carried the flag at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Photo: Getty Images

The Olympic Games, already delayed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, take place against a backdrop of growing concern about the ongoing risk from the pandemic.

Officials said on Sunday that three athletes had tested positive for coronavirus in the Olympic Village, which will house thousands of athletes.

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