He added, “But what does it actually mean to me to be a flag bearer? My answer comes from how this particular person in past years, in this role, has impacted me. It’s leadership, representation and it’s insanely meaningful. It’s inspiring. It’s symbolic. It’s emblematic. But I think my honest answer would be, what does it mean to everyone else? What does it meant to them? What does it mean to everyone in Australia? The thousands of expats living around the world? What does it mean to the next generation? The people that have come before us?
“Because those are the people I proudly represent and will carry the flag for. As the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag bearer my connection between our country - the land, the sky, the sea, our culture, our history and this particular moment runs extremely deep.”
While Mills revealed that there have been no discussions about carrying the Aboriginal flag at the ceremony, he said he would be taking one to Tokyo. “It’s one of those things that I am always going t carry those flags wherever I may be…being able to be a proud representative of our culture, our Australian culture, it’s always going to be there,” he said.
As well as the landmark moment for Indigenous Australians, it’s also the first time the International Committee has decreed that a male and female carry the flag of each nation at the ceremony. Australia has had dual flag bearers before, when Denise Boyd and Max Metzker led the team out under the Olympic flag at those Games in Moscow in 1980.
Speaking of the honour of being the first female swimmer to carry the flag at an opening ceremony, Campbell said: “Honour and privilege have been thrown around a lot…I wish that the English language had a few other words that could fully express just the real sentiment and emotions that I am feeling right now.”