The Japanese Olympic Committee will select veteran Nordic combined skier Akito Watabe as a flagbearer for February’s Beijing Winter Games, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The 33-year-old Watabe is a two-time silver medalist in the men’s individual normal hill 10-kilometer event, reaching the podium at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and again four years later in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
He was overall Nordic combined World Cup champion for the 2017-18 season, becoming only the second Japanese athlete to achieve the feat.
The top five Japanese in the World Cup standings as of Sunday will earn selection for next month’s Olympics, with Watabe a certainty to make his fifth straight Winter Olympic team.
The JOC will also look to select a female athlete to carry the flag as part of the push for gender equity at the Olympics. Men’s basketball star Rui Hachimura and women’s wrestler Yu Susaki served as flagbearers for Japan at last summer’s Tokyo Games.
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