USA flag bearer Michael Phelps will reportedly leave opening ceremony early
USA flag bearer Michael Phelps will reportedly leave Friday’s opening ceremony early.
USA Today’s Christine Brennan reported Friday that NBC staffers will transport Phelps back to the Olympic village before the ceremony ends, despite Phelps’s responsibility as flag bearer.
It is not unprecedented for athletes to skip the ceremony entirely, particularly people like swimmers who have to compete the day after the ceremony. Phelps himself has not attended any of the previous opening ceremonies for that reason. This year, he is not due to compete until Sunday, so the notion of staying on his feet for hours would not be conducive to success.
It is a bit more rare for a flag bearer to duck out early — Phelps will be the first American flag bearer to do so — but it’s a unique situation. He is the star American athlete, and he’s participating in what will almost certainly be his final Olympics. He was never going to get the chance to do this again, so a compromise solution makes sense. Plus, Phelps barely needed to prepare for London. He’ll probably be fine here.