Women's rugby sevens captain Sarah Hirini will be one of two New Zealand flagbearers ©Getty Images

Women’s rugby sevens captain Sarah Hirini and two-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond have been announced as New Zealand’s flagbearers for the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony.

The joint flagbearer announcement follows the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) confirmation that nations could select a male and female athlete together.

Both athletes will fly the flag at the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

Hirini and Bond were confirmed at the flagbearers by New Zealand’s Chef de Mission Rob Waddell at a team function in Auckland.

"Sarah and Hamish are outstanding athletes and are also leaders off the field of play," said Waddell.

"These athletes are role models and bring a huge amount of mana to our team. 

"I’m extremely proud to be naming them as flagbearers.

"They will follow in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest sportspeople when they lead the New Zealand team into the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 23rd.”

The New Zealand Olympic Committee said it had considered a wide range of factors including past performances, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition preparation and performance standards.

Hirini was part of the New Zealand team that won the Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2013, as well as winning the Commonwealth Games title at Gold Coast 2018 and an Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016.

She is also a six-time World Rugby Sevens Series champion and was a member of New Zealand’s squad which won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017.

Hirini was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019.

Two-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond will be an Opening Ceremony flagbearer ©Getty Images
Two-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond will be an Opening Ceremony flagbearer ©Getty Images

"This means so much to me and my family," said Hirini.

"Being able to carry the flag and represent the women’s sevens team and the wider New Zealand Team at the Opening Ceremony is going to be such a huge honour.

"I can’t wait to represent my country at these Games."

Bond is set to compete at a fourth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, with his debut coming as part of the men’s coxless four at Beijing 2008.

He won back-to-back Olympic golds in the men's pair with partner Eric Murray at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Bond returned to the sport in 2019 after a two-year period in cycling, which included winning a bronze medal in the men’s time trial at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Bond will be a key part of New Zealand’s men’s eight team at Tokyo 2020.

"If you look back on the people who have been our flagbearers over the years it’s a pretty amazing bunch of athletes so to be bestowed this opportunity is really special to me," said Bond.

"Our flagbearers have represented us with distinction, pride and respect in the past and I’m really honoured to be adding my name to that list."

Bond and Hirini were presented with the New Zealand team's Kākahu when they were individual confirmed as the flagbearers, with Hirini receiving hers at a private ceremony before travelling to compete at the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championships.

The Kākahu is a cloak is worn only by the flagbearer of New Zealand Olympic teams and is a symbol of the Maori traditions at the core of the team’s culture.

It was first worn at Athens in 2004.

Sir Peter Snell was the New Zealand team flagbearer the last time New Zealand competed at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, back in 1964.