Ian Chesterman, six-time Winter Olympic Chef de Mission for the Australian team, said that the country’s field of 51 athletes had presented several strong contenders for flagbearer who athletes and supporters would endorse.
“I think the important thing is… when we announce the flagbearer is that it will resonate strongly with the Australian Team and that it will resonate strongly with the Australian public,” Chesterman said.
“That’s in a large part because Australian winter sport athletes have been doing so well around the world and I’m lucky to have a number of athletes to choose from to carry the flag.
“I’ve been lucky enough to choose six flagbearers and you always have to work out… who would like to do it and who you think would be good to do it for them for their own performance.”
Although freestyle aerial skier and five-time Olympian Lydia Lassila declined the opportunity to be the Australian flagbearer for PyeongChang 2018, Chesterman said her role within the team was not diminished.
“Lydia was obviously a standout candidate to carry the flag; she’s a five-time Olympian, she’s a gold medallist, a bronze medallist and a legend of the sport – of aerial skiing and winter sports overall.
“We understand that the most important thing for an athlete is to produce the best result that they want, that they’ve worked so hard for four years and in Lydia’s case, nearly 20 years as an elite athlete.
“So (we are) totally supportive of her decision to focus on her commitment to be the best that she can be on her day but I also know that Lydia will play a great role within the Australian Team anyway because she’s a great Team member, has been over the last four Games and I’m very confident that she will be again these games in PyeongChang.”
Lassila, 36, is still a chance to carry the flag at the Closing Ceremony, as she did in Sochi 2014.
Chesterman hoped it would be another tough choice for team officials courtesy of a strong performance by the Team overall.
“The Closing Ceremony traditionally goes to the person that had a great result at the Games so I’d love Lydia Lassila to be in that situation - wouldn’t that be a fitting finale for her to carry that flag?
“But there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge between now and then and I hope I have a number of candidates to choose from when I have to decide who carries the flag at the Closing Ceremony.”
Chesterman said the Australian athletes were settling in to PyeongChang smoothly, and many were excited by the snowfall early on Saturday morning.
“We’ve gradually got athletes arriving, those of us who have been here for a while are enjoying the Village, it’s a very good setup.
“I was down at the Coastal Village yesterday and that’s a really magnificent set up for those athletes. It’s a comfortable environment, the Koreans are doing a great job in welcoming us and everyone’s feeling like they’re part of winter today with a little bit of snow falling.”