Fabrizio Zanotti Carries Flag for Paraguay
Two-time European Tour winner and 2016 Olympian Fabrizio Zanotti had the honor of carrying Paraguay’s flag at Friday night’s Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony at the Japan National Stadium and he couldn’t have been happier.
“When I found out I was going to carry the flag it was very emotional,” said Zanotti, who got his first look at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Sunday. “Very emotional sensation with my family and all my team. When you put the colors of your country on it feels good. My country is a very small country, so everybody cares about it so that’s a great feeling for me. When I play for my country, it is a different feeling inside.”
Zanotti is the second golfer to carry the flag for Paraguay. In 2016, LPGA professional Julieta Granada led the team into the ceremony in Rio.
The 38-year-old shared the flag-carrying honors this year with tennis player Veronica Cepede, but the pair didn’t have a plan of who was going to hold the flag, or for how long. They just figured it out on the spot.
“This is the third time Veronica is in the Olympic Games, said Zanotti. “She’s a good friend. We were both very emotional and I know she enjoyed it too.”
Zanotti revealed he was surprised the flag was a little heavier than expected.
“A little, yes,” he said with a chuckle. “I carried it most of the time before we got to the stadium, but it was ok.”
Zanotti’s first of two European Tour titles came at the 2014 BMW International Open where he won a four-man playoff which included Henrik Stenson, who claimed the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. In 2017, he won for a second time at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Zanotti finished in a tie for 15th. Since then, he has played primarily on the European Tour where he picked up a runner-up result at the 2019 Oman Open. In his most recent sojourn to the PGA TOUR, he notched a tie for 22nd at the 2021 Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. Zanotti won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in the men’s individual competition. He also claimed silver in the mixed team competition.
“Golf is a game that gives a lot to Paraguay,” said Zanotti. “In the Pan Am Games we have a lot of medals with Carlos Franco, Julieta, me. We are such a small country and we have winners on the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour and European Tour. It’s good that golf is now in the Olympic Games and we can carry the flag and show the country how important golf is for the country.”
Zanotti admitted that the ceremony in Tokyo was a lot more subdued than five years ago in Rio.
“I was talking to my teammates about that and we all agreed it was really different,” he said. “In Rio it was like a big party. This one was very quiet. It was not the same. It was not the same atmosphere.”
Asked how he would compare winning a gold medal at the Pan American Games to winning an Olympic medal, Zanotti became emotional, shaking his head and taking a moment.
“That gold medal was the first-ever gold medal for Paraguay at the Pan America Games, so it was really huge,” said Zanotti. “Imagine what it would be like in the Olympic Games. Wow! We have only one Olympic medal – in football (soccer). We lost in the final against Argentina. It’s the only medal we have in Paraguay. You always dream about that. I don’t know what it would be like but it’s probably going to be very emotional. That’s the only feeling I think I can have. It would be great.”