With the Olympics coming closer every day, the excitement is getting bigger and bigger in the different countries. And for every nation, the position of the flag-bearer during the Opening ceremony is a huge honor. This year, this massive responsibility will be in the hands of several European basketball stars.
For the moment, two Europeans already know their job in Beijing for next Friday: Sarunas Jasikevicius from Lithuania and Andrei Kirilenko from Russia will be at the head of their Olympic teams when they enter the Stadium. A third player could be added to this list next Wednesday, when the German Olympic committee will announce its decision: After a mass public vote, the fans voted for Dirk Nowitzki to do this job.
For Lithuania, the presence of a basketball player in the role is not a big surprise. Already in 2004, it was Saulius Stombergas who was in the first row entering the Olympic Stadium in Athens. For Germany, the selection of Nowitzki would be a big change. Until now, this role was normally given to a individual with a huge Olympic background like an equestrian, canoeist or fencer.
In Russia, it was probably the Eurobasket 2007 win in Spain that was the reason for giving the flag to Andrei Kirilenko. The Russian forward is also one of the most prominent athletes worldwide from Russia.
Spain won’t have Pau Gasol or somebody else from its world champion team carrying the flag, but one more basketball player will carry the flag of his country: Probably the most European of all Argentineans, Manu Ginobili will be the flagbearer of the Argentinean team in Beijing. With Pau doing it for Spain, you would already have together a huge All-Tournament team, by the way…