China’s flag-bearer will be basketball player

A top Chinese sports official confirmed Tuesday that China’s flag-bearer for London Olympic opening ceremony will be a basketball player, ruling out the chances of star hurdler Liu Xiang and 2011 French Open women’s singles winner Li Na.

“We will continue the tradition (in terms of choosing flag-bearer),” Xiao Tian, deputy chef de mission of the Chinese Olympic delegation, told Xinhua after arriving at London Heathrow Airport.

There has been a lot of guessing about who will carry the Chinese flag in London. Apart from Liu and Li, Dallas Mavericks player Yi Jianlian, Olympic badminton champion Lin Dan and world champion swimmer Sun Yang were also among the candidates.

Xiao’s remark indicated that Yi might be the winner.

Yi, 24, started his career as a professional player in south China’s Guangdong Province. He joined NBA in 2007 and played for the Washington Wizards before he came back to China amid the NBA lock-out.

China has the tradition of choosing basketball players as flag-bearers for the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Former NBA star Yao Ming was the fag-bear of the Chinese sports delegation at both Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004.

Xiao said earlier that China’s flag-bearer should well represent the image of China. “He or she needs to have an impressive record in sports, be tall, handsome and influential.”

Chinese Olympians have so far all arrived in Britain. Xiao said he has full confidence in Chinese athletes and believes that they will have excellent achievement in London.

China fielded a 396-strong delegation featuring 33 Olympic champions to the July 27-Aug. 12 Games in London. It captured 51 golds, 21 silvers and 28 bronzes in Beijing, relegating the United States to the second place.

Xinhua