Team GB to have male and female flagbearers in Tokyo

Former world No. 1 tennis player Andy Murray carried the flag for Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo by Robert Beck /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Team Great Britain is set to have male and female flagbearers at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in the country's history at the Games.

This move would leave a "real hallmark legacy message," chef de mission Mark England said.

National teams can appoint a man and a woman as their flagbearers at the Games this year after the International Olympic Committee changed its protocols last year to send a message of gender parity.

Previous to this, countries taking part in the Olympics had to choose either a man or a woman to carry the national flag while walking ahead of its contingent as they entered the stadium during the opening and closing ceremonies.

Britain has had 26 flagbearers at the Summer Olympics since 1906, but only three of them have been women.

Swimmer Anita Lonsbrough became Britain's first female flagbearer in Tokyo 1964, followed by equestrian rider Lucinda Green at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and judoka Kate Howey in Athens 2004.

With the Olympics returning to Tokyo, England said there was a desire to celebrate Lonsbrough's feat.

"For the first time national Olympic Committees are being encouraged to have two flagbearers," England was quoted as saying by British media. "I will have to see how many are in the village by that time.

"The flagbearer is interesting because we want to celebrate the return of British athletes to Tokyo after 1964.

"That team had some real hallmark legacy messages. That was a moment for women and I'm hopeful that the class of Tokyo 2020 will be able to leave a similar mark."

The Games, which were pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.