The man wearing the most gold will be bearing the red, white, and blue in Brazil.
U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps carries the flag for the United States during the opening ceremonies of the Rio Summer Games. The captains of the various sports represented elect the flag bearers, which traditionally include a male and a female. The pride of Baltimore joins sprinter Rafer Johnson, wrestler Rulon Gardner, and soccer player Mia Hamm among the Olympians honored to carry Old Glory.
“I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for,” Phelps maintained in a statement.
Tradition calls on the flag bearer to dip the ensign when passing by the local head of state. But the U.S. Flag Code instructs that “the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.” Past American Olympians, including when they walked by Adolph Hitler in 1936, generally abide by U.S. rather than Olympic customs during the opening ceremonies.
The winner of 18 golds and 22 overall Olympic medals looks to add to his collection in South America. He races in the 200 meter butterfly, the 100 meter butterfly, and the 200 meter individual medley.
“For Sydney, I just wanted to make the team,” Phelps notes. “For Athens, I wanted to win gold for my country. For Beijing, I wanted to do something nobody else had done. In London, I wanted to make history. And now, I want to walk in the Opening Ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud.”
The first Olympic Games held in South America starts on August 5 and ends on the 21st.