NBA star Rui Hachimura leads Japan in Parade of Nations at Opening Ceremony

Posted at 12:37 AM, Jul 24, 2021

The iconic red and white flag of Japan was the last to enter Olympic Stadium during the Parade of Nations as the host nation took its traditional spot at the back of the pack. However, 6-foot-8 Washington Wizards star Rui Hachimura made sure it was carried higher than all the rest.

Born in the northern Japanese city of Toyama, Hachimura was first introduced to American basketball fans as a forward at Gonzaga University. He played three season for the Bulldogs before being drafted ninth overall by the Wizards in the 2019 NBA Draft. He is competing in his first Olympic Games for Japan in Tokyo.

SEE MORE: How to watch basketball at the Tokyo Olympics

Hachimura received the honor of serving as flagbearer for the host nation at the Opening Ceremony, joined by female wrestler Susaki Yui. For the first time at the Olympics, each nation could name two flagbearers, one of each gender.

The large delegation of Japanese athletes wore white tops over red pants, a reverse of the outfit the nation wore when it last hosted the Olympic Games in 1964.

Once Japan rounded out the Parade of Nations, the Opening Ceremony traditions resumed, culminating in another Japanese star, Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka, lighting the Olympic cauldron.