RIO: In a drastic change of plans on the eve of the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) on Thursday nominated shooter Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, also known as GM Bashir, to bear Pakistan’s flag despite having named Judoka Shah Hussain for the task earlier.
Well-placed sources told that there was a difference between the PSB and the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) over who would be Pakistan’s flag bearer.
The PSB had earlier nominated Judoka Shah Hussain but a statement by chief-de-mission Shaukat Javed on Thursday revealed GM Bashir will bear the country’s flag.
Such a last-minute change of plans however, is not unprecedented.
In the 2010 Commonwealth games in India, POA had named Shujauddin Malik, the country’s gold medal winning weightlifter at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, to lead the Pakistan contingent during the ceremony.
However, Dr. Muhammad Ali Shah, the country’s chef-de-mission at the event, led the detail with the flag in his hand after pushing aside the weightlifter, which was caught on camera.
GM Bashir, Shah Hussain, and female shooter Minal are the only three athletes that qualified for the mega sports event. The other four athletes from Pakistan qualified on wild cards.