London native to carry Canada flag at Olympic Opening Ceremony

Basketball star Miranda Ayim named as one of Team Canada's two flag bearers at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo courtesy of olympic.ca

Londoner Miranda Ayim has been named as one of Team Canada’s two flag-bearers at the Tokyo Olympics.

The three-time Olympic women’s basketball player will be joined by men’s rugby co-captain Nathan Hirayama in carrying the red and white flag at the opening ceremony this Friday.

“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 a statement issued on Monday. “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.”

Ayim, a Saunders Secondary graduate, has been competing internationally for 15 years. She made her Olympic debut at the London Games in 2012 and was part of the gold winning team at the 2015 Pan Am Games. The 33-year-old announced in March she would be retiring from the sport following the Tokyo Games.

This will be Hirayama’s first time competing at the Olympics. He has been a key member of the Canadian rugby sevens teams since joining in 2006.

“I feel hugely honoured to be nominated to be the flag bearer alongside Miranda,” said Hirayama. “I’ve been watching the Olympics for my entire life and understand the honour and privilege that comes with being the flag bearer.

While this isn’t the first time a Londoner has carried the Canadian flag at the Olympics – London’s Tessa Virtue and Ilderton’s Scott Moir were flag bearers at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea – it is the first time two athletes from different sports have been given the honour.

“Chosen in part for their careers of thoughtful leadership, they exemplify the spirit of this Team Canada,” said Marnie McBean, Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission. “They are extremely talented individuals who invest themselves in building up their teammates and their communities. They both have an awareness of past generations, and ambitions for the next ones.”

Canada will have a record 370 athletes competing at the Tokyo Games. Strict COVID-19 protocols have been put in place for the Games.