Team GB will make Olympic history with male and female flag bearers

News and reactions from the world of sport, including English cricket and rugby joining the social media boycott

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray was Team GB’s flag bearer at Rio 2016
Two-time gold medallist Andy Murray was Team GB’s flag bearer at Rio 2016
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Flag bearer change can leave a ‘real hallmark legacy message’

Tokyo Olympic Games

This summer’s opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympic Games will see Team GB have male and female flag bearers for the first time. The move has been “encouraged” by the International Olympic Committee as part of its plans for gender equality, The Guardian reports. The decision has also been “embraced with enthusiasm” by the British Olympic Association.

Swimmer Anita Lonsbrough (Tokyo 1964), equestrian rider Lucinda Green (Los Angeles 1984) and judoka Kate Howey (Athens 2004) are the only three British women to have previously carried the flag. Mark England, the Team GB chef de mission, hopes the change will create a “real hallmark legacy message”.

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2. Rugby and cricket join social media boycott

English sport

Rugby union and cricket organisations in England will join their football counterparts for the boycott of social media. Starting tomorrow at 3pm, English football organisations will switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for four days in response to online abuse directed at players.

Premiership Rugby, clubs and the Rugby Players’ Association will be involved, the BBC reports. The England and Wales Cricket Board, first-class counties, women’s regional teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association have also joined the protest.

“We are committed to making Premiership Rugby a diverse, welcoming and inclusive environment for our staff, players and fans,” said Wayne Morris, the chair of Premiership Rugby’s diversity and inclusion group.

English football to boycott social media giants

3. Guardiola: don’t be ‘shy’ in second leg against PSG

Champions League

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has urged his side not to be “shy” in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain - or risk elimination and missing out on the final.

In last night’s first leg City won 2-1 with Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scoring second-half goals. Marquinhos had given PSG a 15th-minute lead in a first half that the French giants dominated.

The second leg will be held at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday and Spaniard Guardiola said: “It’s halfway for the job and it is simple, if we play shy and not who we are, PSG have the quality to win 2-0. If we play like the second half or in our last games, we have the chance to reach the final.”

4. Defending champion Djokovic to miss Madrid Open


World No.1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from next month’s Madrid Open. In a tweet posted by organisers of the Madrid event, the defending champion said he was “sorry that I won’t be able to travel to Madrid this year and meet all my fans”.

As part of his preparations for the French Open, which begins on 30 May at Roland-Garros in Paris, the 18-time grand slam champion is expected to play tournaments in Rome and Belgrade next month.

Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: grand slam wins and big titles

5. Turkey replaces Canada on F1 2021 calendar

Formula 1

Ongoing international travel restrictions in Canada means Montreal will no longer host a Formula 1 grand prix in 2021. In a change to the schedule round seven will now take place in Turkey.

The 2021 F1 Turkish Grand Prix will be held from 11-13 June at Istanbul Park. In November last year the race in Turkey saw Lewis Hamilton crowned world champion for a record-equalling seventh time.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali said: “While it is disappointing we cannot be in Canada this season, we are excited to confirm that Turkey will host a grand prix in 2021 after an amazing race last season. I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Canada for all of their efforts in recent weeks but the travel situation made our plans impossible.”

F1 2021 season guide: grand prix calendar and race winners

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.