Asian Games: Harmanpreet Singh, Lovlina Borgohain to be India's flag-bearers
The Indian men's hockey team skipper and the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist will lead the contingent at the opening ceremony on September 23
Men's hockey team captain Harmanpreet Singh and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist boxer Lovlina Borgohain will be India's flag-bearers at the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games that kicks off here on Saturday. This is the first time that the Asian Games will have two flag-bearers in the push for gender parity, on the lines of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
"Among the squads that have already reached Hangzhou, boxing, hockey and table tennis are the most significant disciplines, so we picked the best from hockey and boxing," India's chef-de-mission Bhupender Singh Bajwa said.
"Also, this is the first time in Asiad history that each NOC is required to have two flag-bearers (male and female). This is a gesture to promote gender equality. Harmanpreet is among the leading male hockey players in the world while Lovlina is a reigning world champion. The choice was not too difficult."
At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, the Indian contingent was led by Neeraj Chopra at the opening ceremony. An Olympic and world champion since then, the javelin ace would have been an automatic choice but he arrives only a week after the Games open. Athletics starts only on September 29.
The men's hockey team though plays its first match on September 24 against Uzbekistan, which starts at 8.45 am.
A member of the team who didn't wish to be named said, "We will hardly get any sleep if we attend the opening ceremony. Such functions are usually 5-6 hour affairs and are quite draining, so the team may skip the ceremony altogether.
Bajwa said: "We know about the schedule, but we had to go with the options we have. The decision was taken with Harmanpreet's consent."