TOKYO– Wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki, a two-time Paralympic medalist, and paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell, Paralympic bronze medalist, were selected as Team USA’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced today. The Opening Ceremony will be held Tuesday, August 24 at Tokyo Stadium.

Aoki and Stockwell were chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA athletes and are the first duo to share the honor of leading the Paralympic delegation into the Opening Ceremony, which serves as the official start to the Games. Of the 242 athletes who were named to the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team, more than 115 athletes are set to attend Tuesday’s Opening Ceremony.

In March 2020 – and prior to the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games due to the COVID pandemic – the International Paralympic Committee amended its policy to allow national teams to appoint two flag bearers – one female and one male – in promotion of gender parity. The IPC also required that at least one male and one female athlete be included in each of the 162 national delegations that will compete in Tokyo.

Participating in his third Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Aoki helped lead Team USA to a silver medal at Rio 2016 and a bronze medal at London 2012. Aoki was elected as the Athletes’ Advisory Council Vice Chair and has served as an AAC representative since 2017.

“Being selected flag bearer is such a stunning honor that I never expected,” said Aoki. “We have an incredible group of athletes in our delegation and to be selected by my peers is amazing. I also want to thank my family and my teammates for all of their support. I would not be in this position or be the athlete I am without them. When I am bringing in the flag, it is for all of them as well.”

A first lieutenant in the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division, Stockwell won the bronze medal in the inaugural Paralympic triathlon event at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 alongside teammates Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz. Stockwell currently trains out of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I am so honored and humbled to be chosen by my peers as one of the flag bearers for Team USA,” Stockwell said. “As a veteran, carrying the American flag and representing my sport (triathlon), my country, my Paralympic family and my team — that is an incredible honor. The Paralympics are a showcase of what we can overcome with the power of the human body and the human spirit, and I’m just so proud of where my story has brought me. I’m proud to have the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Paralympics, and I’m ready for Team USA to showcase our athletic ability to the world.”

The Opening Ceremony will be shown on NBCSN live from 7-10 a.m. ET and will re-air again from 7-10 p.m. E.T.

NBCUniversal will showcase an unprecedented 1,200 hours of Paralympic programming of the Tokyo Games presented by Toyota including the network’s first-ever primetime broadcasts, more than 200 hours of TV coverage among NBC, NBCSN and the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, and over 1,000 hours of live streaming across 19 sports on NBC’s digital platforms. The coverage showcases the network’s continued commitment for the Paralympic Movement, which has grown from 70 hours for Rio 2016 and 5.5 total hours for London 2012.

Follow Team USA in Tokyo
Team USA fans can follow the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team at TeamUSA.org and across Team USA’s social channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The U.S. Paralympic Team microsite will offer Team USA results from the Paralympic Games, as well as athlete biographies, sport previews, a history book, competition schedules, and facts and figures about the U.S. delegation.

Fans can continue to learn about the U.S. Paralympic team with Team USA’s “Show the World” campaign that launched in late June. The campaign aims to drive awareness of the Paralympic Movement while showcasing the elite competitive abilities of Team USA’s Paralympic athletes.