The Tokyo Olympics are underway, but the opening ceremony won’t take place until Friday, July 23. On Wednesday, Team USA announced its flag bearers for the ceremony: Women’s basketball legend Sue Bird and men’s baseball infielder Eddy Alvarez, who is also part of the Miami Marlins organization. Bird and Alvarez were selected after winning a team-wide vote.
Bird, 40, is partaking in her fifth Olympics, having previously played for Team USA in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. She’s won a gold medal in each of those events, and has authored one of the most storied careers in American basketball history, having been selected to 11 All-Star teams while winning four WNBA championships and two NCAA championships during her time at UConn.
Alvarez, 31, has a remarkable tale of his own. He won a silver medal in the 2014 Winter Games in a short track speed skating event (the 5,000-meter relay). He subsequently began a professional baseball career, culminating with him reaching the majors during the 2020 season. In 12 games last year, he batted .189/.268/.216. Alvarez has so far spent the 2021 campaign in the minors, hitting .312/.470/.442 across three levels, albeit primarily Triple-A.
Bird and Alvarez each responded to the news of their election on Twitter. Bird quote-tweeted the original announcement with red, white, and blue heart emojis. Alvarez, meanwhile, offered the following sentiment: “Thank you to everyone that honored me with this privilege! I will wave our colors proudly.”
Bird and the women’s basketball team will play their first game next Tuesday (July 27) against the Nigeran squad. That game will tip off at 12:40 a.m. ET. As for Alvarez and the baseball team, they’ll begin play on Friday, July 30 at 6 a.m. ET against Israel.