Swimmers Gaurika Singh and Alex Gadegaard Shah will carry the Nepal national flag during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games slated for July 23 to August 8.

The Nepal Olympic Committee announced Singh as the flag bearer for the opening ceremony. The International Olympic Committee has decided to allow one each male and female athlete to carry their national flags in the opening ceremony, Shah will be the second athlete from Nepal to do the honour as he is the lone male athlete in Nepal's five-member team.

"We just decided the name of Gaurika Singh as the flag bearer as we were aware of the provision of nominating two athletes to carry the national flag in the opening ceremony," said Nepal Olympic Committee President Jeevan Ram Shrestha. "If it is mandatory, swimmer Shah will be the obvious choice as he is the single male athlete in our team," he added. "We will follow the IOC instruction in this regard and will decide on this matter tomorrow," added Shrestha.

The IOC had on March 4 made the decision to ask all the NOCs to nominate one each male and female athlete to carry the national flag in the opening ceremony, apart from making it mandatory to include at least one each male and female athlete in all the 206 national teams and IOC Refugee Olympic Team "to ensure full gender representation across the teams". "With these two initiatives, the IOC is sending another extremely strong message to the world that gender balance is a reality at the Olympic Games," IOC President Thomas Bach had said after the executive committee meeting.

Singh, the most successful athlete of the 13th South Asian Games with nine medals including four golds, was the youngest Olympian of the 2016 Rio Games. Singh and Shah will take part in 100m free style events under Universality places, along with sprinter Saraswati Chaudhary.

Two others, shooter Kalpana Pariyar and judoka Soniya Bhatta, earned wild cards for the Games.

Pariyar will compete in women's 10m Air Rifle event and she will be accompanied by coach Aseem Yadav, while Bhatta will participate in below-48kg weight category and coach Surya Narayan Shrestha will accompany her to Japan.

Likewise, Chaudhary will run in women's 100m event and Indra Kumari Malla has been appointed as her coach.

Chaudhary is the late replacement in athletics after long-distance runner Gopi Chandra Parki was denied the spot in marathon. Parki had sealed the berth by winning the Dhara Nepalgunj Marathon in November last year.

Apart from five players and four coaches, Nepal is sending 17 officials in Tokyo Games, which was postponed for a year due to coronavirus pandemic.

National Sports Council Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal has been appointed as the chef-de-mission of Nepali contingent.

"We had begun preparing for the Games in May 2019 with 12 players from seven games receiving the Olympic scholarship from the IOC," said the NOC at the launching of Nepal Olympic Yatra 2020 amidst a programme today.

Nepal's Olympic journey began from the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 and this will be the 14th appearance, although the athletes have not been able to leave their mark. Only two players, Sangina Baidhya and Deepak Bista, both from taekwondo, have been able to earn berths in the Olympics through qualification so far.

According to the NOC, Nepal has been placed in Group-I by the organisers in category division under the severity of the coronavirus situation. "For the safety measures, all the players, coaches, managers, and officials are fully vaccinated and they need to undergo PCR tests for seven consecutive days before entering Japan.

Also, all the team members need to stay in quarantine for three days," the NOC said. The NOC has signed an agreement with Daraz Nepal to promote the Nepali athletes, while Kelme Nepal is the official kits sponsor of the Nepali team.

NOC President Jeevan Ram Shrestha, Vice-presidents Chatura Nanda Rajvaidhya, Tej Bahadur Gurung and Sunil Kumar Shrestha, Secretary General Nilendra Raj Shrestha, Joint Secretary General Pitamber Timsina, Secretary Kumari Tulasi Thapa, Members Prakash Shumsher Rana and Ram Awale, Secretary at Youth and Sports Ministry Kedar Neupane, NSC Vice-president Shiva Koirala, NSC Members Subash Shrestha and Sampanna Shrestha, medical person Nabishman Singh Pradhan, staff at the Embassy of Nepal in Tokyo Prem Baral and volunteer Rupesh Dangol are the officials who will represent Nepal in the Olympics.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 14 2021, of The Himalayan Times.