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ZAGREB, 11 July 2008 – The COC Council made a unanimous decision that handball player Ivano Balic would carry the Croatian national flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing.

ZAGREB, 11 July 2008 – The COC Council made a unanimous decision that handball player Ivano Balic would carry the Croatian national flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing.

The decision was made at the 45th meeting of the Council, held on Friday, 11 July 2008. This is the first time that a handball player will have the honour of carrying the Croatian flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. The renowned and internationally acclaimed Croatian handball player Ivano Balic, who has won an Olympic gold medal, a gold and a silver medal at the World Championships and a silver medal at the European Championship, is the world’s best handball player.

Since Croatia gained its independence in 1991, flag carriers at the Opening Ceremonies of the previous Games have been tennis player Goran Ivanisevic, water polo player Perica Bukic, table tennis player Zoran Primorac and water polo player Dubravko Simenc.

The Council also decided that table tennis player Tamara Boros would carry the flag at the Closing Ceremony. The Beijing Games will be her fourth Olympic Games.

The COC Council decided that the Croatian Olympic delegation to the Games of the XXIX Olympiad would have 173 members: 91 athletes in 14 sports: athletics 8, boxing 2, cycling 3, canoe/kayak 2, gymnastics 2, handball 14, rowing 4, sailing 10, shooting 4, swimming 15, table tennis 6, tennis 4, taekwondo 2 and water polo 13 (and there can be another substitute player in both handball and tennis). The Croatian national basketball team can still qualify for the Olympics, as can some more swimmers and track and field athletes. If they do, there could be more than 100 Croatian athletes in Beijing. The largest number of Croatian athletes so far was at the 2000 Games in Sydney (91 athletes in 14 sports).

A decision was also made to call the election meeting of the COC Assembly for the period 2008-2012, which needs to be confirmed by the COC Assembly. The election meeting will be held on 22 October 2008.