There’s A Meaningful Reason Behind The Order Of The Parade Of Nations

by Monica Hunter-Hart
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One of the most anticipated events of the Olympic opening ceremony is the parade, in which the athlete delegation from each country enters the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium bearing their flag. As with everything else in the ceremony, the order in which the countries enter is symbolically important. So, here's the order of countries during the Parade of Nations in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Exactly 92 nations, as well as a partial delegation from Russia, were in this year's parade. That's the biggest number in history, and it includes the Winter Olympic newcomers of Singapore, Eritrea, Malaysia, Ecuador, Nigeria, and Kosovo. The biggest delegation is from the United States and includes 242 athletes. The U.S. delegation is also the largest in the history of the Olympics. Many countries have very small delegations, though; Albania, for example, sent just two athletes to the games.

Greece enters first, as always, because they are the creators of the Olympic tradition. The host nation — South Korea, this time — always goes last. South Korea and North Korea are marching together under one Korean unification banner this year. Beyond that, the countries will enter alphabetically according to the Korean alphabet. Here's the official order:

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1. Greece

2. Ghana

3. Nigeria

4. South Africa

5. Netherlands

6. Norway

7. New Zealand

8. Denmark

9. Germany

10. Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

11. Latvia

12. Lebanon

13. Romania

14. Luxembourg

15. Lithuania

16. Liechtenstein

17. Madagascar

18. Malaysia

19. Mexico

20. Monaco

21. Morocco

22. Montenegro

23. Republic of Moldova

24. Malta

25. Mongolia

26. United States of America

27. Bermuda

28. Belgium

29. Belarus

30. Bosnia and Herzegovina

31. Bolivia

32. Bulgaria

33. Brazil

34. San Marino

35. Serbia

36. Sweden

37. Switzerland

38. Spain

39. Slovakia

40. Slovenia

41. Singapore

42. Armenia

43. Argentina

44. Iceland

45. Ireland

46. Azerbaijan

47. Andorra

48. Albania

49. Eritrea

50. Estonia

51. Ecuador

52. Great Britain

53. Australia

54. Austria

55. Olympic Athletes from Russia

56. Uzbekistan

57. Ukraine

58. Islamic Republic of Iran

59. Italy

60. Israel

61. India

62. Japan

63. Jamaica

64. Georgia

65. People’s Republic of China

66. Czech Republic

67. Chile

68. Kazakhstan

69. Canada

70. Kenya

71. Kosovo

72. Colombia

73. Croatia

74. Kyrgyzstan

75. Cyprus

76. Chinese Taipei

77. Thailand

78. Turkey

79. Togo

80. Tonga

81. Pakistan

82. Portugal

83. Poland

84. Puerto Rico

85. France

86. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

87. Finland

88. Philippines

89. Hungary

90. Hong Kong, China

91. North and South Korea

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The name of each country is announced in three languages: French, English, and Korean. French and English are the official languages of the Olympic Games.

Russian athletes were able to join the parade, but because of the recent doping scandal that threatened the Olympic participation of its entire delegation, it was not permitted to do so in the glorified manner of the other nations. Its athletes did not bear the Russian flag or wear Russian paraphernalia. Instead, they wore gray coats and white scarves and marched under the Olympic flag.

Besides the more somber aesthetic of the Russian athletes, one of the most notable parts of the ceremony was the unified delegation of the two Koreas. Commenting on this event — which had not happened in over a decade — the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, spoke to the crowd of "the unique power of sport to unite people."

"A great example of this unifying power is the joint march here tonight of the two teams from the National Olympic Committees of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," he said. "We thank you."