Volleyballer Zhu Ting to become nation’s first female flag bearer in summer Olympics
By Cui Fandi in Beijing and Zhou Yang in Tokyo
With just five days to go before the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Chinese Olympic delegation has become the hottest topic in China, and volleyballer Zhu Ting is even more eye-catching.
On Saturday night, Zhu Ting, the beloved Chinese volleyball player, was announced to be co-bearer of the national flag at the opening ceremony on Friday for the Team China delegation to Tokyo. Zhu, the No.1 contributor to China’s women’s volleyball team that won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, was set to become the China’s first woman flag bearer in the history of the country’s participation in the summer Olympic Games.
What the Chinese public cares most also includes the status of the Olympic Games in terms of epidemic prevention, the younger blood in the Chinese delegation, and the players who would shine for China at the Olympics.
“Being China’s flag bearer is an honor and a special responsibility,” Zhu told the Xinhua News Agency on Sunday. “It gives me more motivation to do well every day and every step of the way.”
Zhu will hold the Chinese national flag, together with China’s taekwondo player Zhao Shuai, when the Chinese delegation makes its entrance at the opening ceremony in the 111th place among all teams, according to the International Olympic Committee’s protocols.
Chinese netizens said the sequence of the entrance – 111 – is a good omen for the Chinese athletes to “win all the first places in all the races.”
The Chinese mainland sent a 777-person delegation to Tokyo, including 431 athletes, its largest overseas team ever.
The delegation is registered to participate in 225 events in 30 sports, a record for the participation in events. Among the athletes, 19 are Olympics gold medalists, while some 293 athletes will make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.
When asked about the goal of the Chinese women’s volleyball team in Tokyo, Zhu said it was aimed at the gold medal. “We’ll act like it’s just a normal time, and do our best. The goal is still to raise the national flag and play the national anthem.”
Women’s volleyball is China’s traditional strength, and it has been one of China’s Olympic gold-winning events along with table tennis, badminton, diving and weight lifting. For China’s national sport – table tennis – the goal is always to win all five gold medals on offer.
China has won 28 of 32 gold medals in table tennis since the 1988 Olympics.
China is also expected to make breakthroughs in other sports where it isn’t traditionally strong.
In track and field events, China also made a breakthrough in the past Olympic cycle – in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk.In women’s shot put, China has the talent to win gold. Gold medals are also expected from women’s javelin and men’s 20-kilometer race walk. Relay events are also expected to see new best results.
Karate athlete Yin Xiaoyan is also expected to take the gold.
China aims to maintain first place in the medal tally, guarantee zero doping and discipline problems, and ensure that the delegation not involved in COVID-19 transmission, Gou Zhongwen, head of the General Administration of Sport, said on Thursday.
While traveling to Tokyo, a Global Times reporter deeply felt the importance that the Olympics Committee attached to epidemic prevention in many aspects such as checking-in, boarding and entering Japan.
At check-in, the reporter was asked to show his Olympic media accreditation and a certificate of two nucleic acid tests (within 96 hours) issued by a designated agency. As boarding time approached, two staff members were at the gate with information boards informing passengers about “maintaining social distance” and the follow-up requirements needed after entering the country. A large screen at the gate kept scrolling with tips on disease prevention.
Unlike previous flights where a first aid escape video was shown before takeoff, a video of in-flight epidemic prevention was shown first.
After arriving in Tokyo, games-related personnel got off the plane after the regular passengers and took another nucleic acid test at the designated location.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee announced on Sunday that two athletes from overseas who stayed in the Olympic Village had tested positive for COVID-19. As of Sunday, the number of people who have tested positive in connection with the Olympics had reached 55.