23rd July, 2021
Ethiopia, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates and a few other countries shunned the International Olympic Committee (IOC) directive on gender flag bearers at Tokyo Olympics.
They all stood out at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games on Friday for having only either a man or a female flag bearer.
This was in spite of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plea to have both.
Ethiopian male swimmer Abdelmalik Muktar and Tajikistani male judoka Temur Rakhimov waved the flags of their respective countries, in spite of having a mixed delegation.
Congo, on the other hand, had only female sprinter Natacha Ngoye Akamabi represent their mixed team.
In February, the IOC issued a statement asking participating countries to select both male and female flag bearers where possible for the first time ever.
Other countries that only had a male flag bearer, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had a male-only delegation.
Delegations of countries known for conservative gender values complied with the IOC request, as male rower Husein Alireza and female judoka Tahani Alqahtani waved as they held the Saudi Arabian flag.
The IOC pledged to work towards gender equality after previous Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President, Yoshiro Mori, was criticised for making sexist remarks about women in February.
Mori eventually stepped down from his role for making the comment.
The opening ceremony was meanwhile mired in scandal in the lead-up to the Games.
A composer and creative director involved in the ceremony both stepped down from their roles days before the start.