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Sue Bird. Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Veteran women's basketball star Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez will be the flag bearers at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced.

Driving the news: The International Olympic Committee, calling this year's event the "first gender-equal Olympic Games ever," encouraged teams to have one woman and one man serve as their flag bearers.

  • “For the first time, there will be at least one female and one male athlete in each of the teams participating in the Games," the IOC also said.

The big picture: Bird, 40, has won four gold medals with the women's basketball team since 2004.

  • Alvarez, 31, who has played with the Miami Marlins, won a silver medal in speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
  • They were chosen by a vote of other Team USA athletes and "are the first duo to share the honor of leading the delegation into the Opening Ceremony," the U.S. Olympic committee said.

What to watch: The opening ceremony kicks off on July 23. NBC will broadcast the event beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 27, 2021 - Sports

U.S. women's soccer team seeks redemption on Olympic stage

Megan Rapinoe, 15, of the United States reacts during her team's 3-0 loss on July 21. Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

The U.S. women's national soccer team boasts back-to-back World Cup champion status, has ranked first or second in the world every year since 2003 and until Wednesday's Olympic opener against Sweden, had not lost a game in 44 matches.

The big picture: But after a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the women failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time in history, the team is looking for redemption on the Olympic stage in Tokyo.

Jul 19, 2021 - Sports

First look: New Olympics ad thanks sponsors

Photo: Screenshot from new Team USA ad

A new Olympics ad features athletes shouting out corporate sponsors and thanking them for the big money that allows them to compete.

The big picture: The ad is funded by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. It starts airing Tuesday, ahead of Friday's opening ceremony.

Jul 21, 2021 - Sports

Olympics to return to Australia as Brisbane named host of 2032 Games

IOC president Thomas Bach announcing Brisbane as the host of the 2032 Olympics. Photo: Toru Hanai/Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee awarded the 2032 Olympics to Brisbane, Australia, on Wednesday, capping a new one-city selection process meant to minimize costly bidding wars between countries.

Why it matters: It will be the third time that Australia hosts the Olympics, following the popular 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and the 1956 Summer Games in Melbourne.