NBA Championship winner Patty Mills becomes the first native Australian to carry the country’s flag at an Olympic opening ceremony.
The 32-year-old San Antonio Spurs point guard will be Australia’s flag bearer along with twice-swimming gold medalist Cate Campbell.
Mills said the honor was “a passionate moment I can feel in my bones”.
“As a proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man, it is incredible,” he continued.
Both Mills and Campbell are participating in the Games for the fourth time.
The announcement that Mills would be one of the two flag bearers was accompanied by pictures of him draped in the Australian flag standing in front of the Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait.
Mills is both one of his nation’s greatest sports stars and a vocal advocate for social justice, he has donated part of his salary to the Black Lives Matter movement in the country.
Carrying flags in Tokyo on July 23 will evoke memories of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when sprint legend Cathy Freeman became the first native Australian to light a torch.
‘Inspirational, symbolic, symbolic’
Accepting the honor in Japan, Mills asked, “What does it really mean to me to be a flag bearer?
“My answer comes from how this particular person in recent years in this role has influenced me. It’s leadership, representation and it’s insanely meaningful. It’s inspiring. It’s symbolic. It’s symbolic.
“My honest answer would be, what does this mean for everyone else? What does it mean for the team? What does it mean for everyone in Australia? The thousands of ex-pats who live around the world?
“What does this mean for the next generation? The people who have come before us?
“Because these are the people I proudly represent and will carry the flag for. As the first Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander flag bearer, my connection is between our country – the land, the sky, the sea, our culture, our history and this very moment. runs extremely deep. “