LAHORE: National shooter Muhammad Khalil Akhtar and national badminton star Mahoor Shahzad will be Pakistan’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23. Khalil qualified for the Tokyo Olympics shooting competition with his performance in the 2019 Shooting World Cup at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Mahoor got the invitation place by the Olympic Games Tripartite Commission. She is the first female ever to represent Pakistan in badminton at the Olympics. This will be the first time that there will be two Pakistan flag-bearers at the Olympics’ opening ceremony. The flag-bearer at the Olympic Games is a symbolic leader, who is the first person to march a country’s delegation out during the grand opening ceremony parade. The person proudly displays the country’s flag during the parade. Since 1948, mostly Pakistan’s flag bearers at the Olympics have been field hockey players. As Pakistan hockey failed to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016 and the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the POA gave the responsibility of flag bearer to judoka Shah Hussain Shah in 2016 while Khalil and Mahoor have been selected for the Tokyo Games. Pakistan’s first flag bearer at the 1948 London Olympics was athletics’ Ahmed Zahur Khan. “We think it’s a huge honour to be named the flag bearer for the opening ceremony. This is a big moment in our career, and it is also a huge moment for shooting and badminton,” said Khalil and Mahoor. “It would be added motivation for us. We are looking forward to the responsibility at the opening ceremony in Tokyo,” the duo added. The Tokyo Olympics will conclude on August 8. The Olympic Games is the world’s biggest sporting festival. Biggest in the numbers of its competitors, its spectators, the global reach and television coverage. On March 25, 2020, the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 were postponed to 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the first such delay in the Olympic Games’ 124-year modern history. The postponement marked the first break in the four-year cycle for the Summer Olympics since the 1940 and 1944 Games were cancelled because of World War II. Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Secretary General Muhammad Khalid Mahmood told Daily Times on Monday that as per instructions of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games/International Olympic Committee (IOC), each National Olympic Committee had to nominate one accredited female athlete and one accredited male athlete from its delegation to serve as flag bearer during the opening ceremony parade of Tokyo Games. “POA President Lt Gen (r) Syed Arif Hasan has approved the names of Khalil and Mahoor as flag bearers of Pakistan in the opening ceremony,” he added. A 22-member Pakistan contingent (athletes and officials) will participate in the Tokyo Olympics. Pakistan contingent (athletes, support personnel and officials) Athletics: Najma Parveen, Arshad Nadeem (athletes) with Shagufta Noreen and Syed Fiaz Hussain Bokhari as support staff. Badminton: Mahoor Shahzad (athlete) with Wajid Ali Chaudhry as support staff. Judo: Shah Hussain Shah (athlete) with Yusuke Kobayshi as support staff. Shooting: Gulfam Joseph, Muhammad Khalil Akhtar, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir (athletes) with Muhammad Farrukh Nadeem as support staff. Swimming: Syed Muhammad Haseeb Tariq and Bisma Khan (athletes) with Ahmed Ali Khan and Mubasharah Bano Raza as support staff. Weightlifting: Talha Talib (athlete) with Hafiz Imran Butt as support staff. Chef De Mission: Brig Muhammad Zaheer Akhtar (Vice President of Pakistan Olympic Association). COVID Liaison Officer: Javaid Shamshad Lodhi (Representative of Olympic Sports POA, Shooting). COVID Liaison Officer: Doctor: Dr. Asad Abbas Shah (Secretary POA Medical Commission). Administration Official: Muhammad Nasir Ijaz Tung (Member POA HR and Admin Committee).