Laura Ludwig (GER)

Laura Ludwig leads the German delegation at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Volleyball and beach volleyball were honoured at the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with as many as 10 athletes from the two sports selected among the flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

Defending Rio 2016 Olympic champion Laura Ludwig was among beach volleyball’s two representatives leading delegations in the Parade of Nations. The German star was selected by a vote conducted among fellow German Olympians and sports fans.

Beach volleyballer Marco Grimalt had the honour of carrying the national flag of Chile.

“It was the greatest honour and responsibility that I have had as an athlete,” he told Volleyball World. “Leading the Chilean delegation was without a doubt an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Being chosen was a recognition of the good work we have done together with Esteban in the Grimalt Cousins ​​team, a projection of more than 10 years of representing the country and our families, and without a doubt a recognition of the good time that the sport of beach volleyball is having in Chile.”

While Italian indoor star Paola Egonu was Europe’s representative among the six athletes from all sports who received the highest honour of carrying the Olympic flag during one of the ceremony’s highlight moments, another seven volleyball players were selected by their countries as national flag bearers.

Kim Yeon Koung of South Korea, Mercy Moim of Kenya, Prisilla Rivera of the Dominican Republic and Zhu Ting of China carried their countries' flags in the Parade of Nations before participating in the women’s volleyball tournament.

Bruno Rezende carried the national flag of Brazil, Mehdi Ben Cheikh had that honour in the Tunisian delegation, while Maxim Mikhaylov, who went on to claim a Tokyo 2020 men’s silver medal and the opposite position in the tournament’s Dream Team, led the group of athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee.

“The choice of the flag bearer at the Olympic Games shows, of course, not only the high status of the athlete, but also of the sport itself,” Mikhaylov told Volleyball World. “It suggests that the sport is popular in our country and that we, the athletes, achieve high results. Before me, the legendary Sergey Tetyukhin was the flag bearer at Rio 2016. I am sure the fact that volleyballers are our flag bearers for the second time in a row shows that our sport has achieved great public recognition. Volleyball in Russia is loved, appreciated, and its popularity keeps growing.”