The long wait for the Olympics will end tomorrow afternoon when Japan officially welcomes the world for the Tokyo Games at a much anticipated customary opening ceremony.
Part of the Olympic Charter indicates that participating athletes must parade into the stadium grouped by nation, that’s after an artistic portion of culture by the host nation.
And for almost a week, Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) has kept the athletes already in Tokyo guessing about the country’s flag bearer for the ceremony.
One of the sextet comprising swimmers Atuhaire Ambala and Kirabo Namutebi, rower Kathleen Noble and boxing trio Musa Shadiri, Catherine Nanziri and David Ssemujju, will carry the national flag.
Actually, marathoner Stephen Kiprotich, who won the 42km race gold medal at the London 2012 Games, had been chosen as the team captain and consequently, he should have been the flag bearer.
“In any Olympic team, any athlete with the best honours should be the captain,” UOC general secretary Beatrice Ayikoru explained in a recent chat.
“In this year’s team, there is no one with that honour except him (Kiprotich). He is an Olympic gold medallist. If he was not on the Tokyo team, another criteria would be used.”
However, Kiprotich only arrives in Japan around August 2 ahead of the marathon final due August 8 in Sapporo meaning that the opening ceremony is too early for him.
“We shall get one athlete in Tokyo,” Ayikoru stated. Is there any criteria for this? “No,” she added.
But the vacuum has left the sextet guessing.
“There is a rule on that declaration form that they aren’t supposed to release the name (flag bearer) but also it has changed constantly,” said another UOC official.
Way earlier, Bombers skipper Shadiri was tipped to be the flag bearer but it has since narrowed down to a female choice with Namutebi, Noble and Nanziri all discussed.
Noble is Uganda’s first-ever rower at the Games yet Nanziri is also the country’s first female boxer at the Olympics.
Namutebi was also considered since Uganda has more females (13) than males (12) at an Olympics edition for the first time, and she is the youngest - 16.
But, by close of business on Monday, the leading candidate was Ambala. It is important to note that Uganda’s previous flag bearers at the Rio 2016 Games and London 2012 Games were swimmers: Joshua Tibatemwa and Ganzi Mugula respectively.
Boxers Muhamed Sande Kizito, Joseph Lubega and Ronald Serugo were the flag bearers at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games in turn.
Mary Musoke is the last female to carry Uganda’s flag at the Olympics opening ceremony, back at the Atlanta Games in USA 25 years ago.
In order to maintain the Olympics’ norms during a time of the coronavirus, the opening ceremony will take place without spectators in the National Stadium as Tokyo is under a state of emergency.
Furthermore, each National Olympic Committee (NOC) has been requested to have a maximum of nine individuals (athletes and officials) of the groups that will march at the ceremony.
Date: July 23
Time: 2pm (Ugandan time)
Venue: Olympic Stadium