(Bloomberg)—After the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, NBC, the official broadcaster of the event in the U.S., reported some viewers were “confused” at the order by which the teams entered.
That’s because the participating teams didn’t enter according to the English alphabetical order, but by the order set in the Japanese language. That meant Iceland entered second after Greece, which always comes first in what’s known as the Parade of Nations as it’s the historical founding nation of the Olympics.
Things get much more complicated at the coming winter games in China, however, as the Chinese language does not have an alphabet. Instead, indexing in the language for the opening ceremony is done according to stroke order, which arranges words based on how many strokes the first character of the word has, and then the order by which the strokes are written—the straight horizontal stroke comes before the straight vertical stroke, for example.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that meant Guinea and Guinea Bissau entered after Greece, as the first character in their simplified Chinese (the system used in mainland China) names have just two strokes. Turkey followed in fourth place, as the first character in its name in Chinese has three strokes.
The host nation enters last, and is preceded by the host of the following games. At the upcoming winter games, that means Italy will march in the penultimate spot. Meanwhile, the Chinese Taipei delegation, as Taiwan is known at the Olympics, will be attending the event, reversing an earlier decision after the IOC said it was required to participate, the island’s Olympic committee said in a statement Monday.
The alphabetical order isn’t set in stone, though. At the winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, some teams entered out of the order dictated by the Korean alphabet, possibly due to political sensitivities. For example, Iran and Israel were separated by Italy in the opening ceremony against alphabetical order. A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said in a statement the decision to alter the order “was taken at the time to reflect the appropriate protocols,” without elaborating.
At the upcoming winter games, Israel, which marched before Japan in 2008 in Beijing, will enter after Pakistan and before Timor-Leste. The Russian Olympic Committee, which, by the same Chinese stroke order, should enter between Bulgaria and the U.S., is marching in earlier before France.
Here is the order by which 91 teams will march in at the Winter Olympics according to a list provided by the IOC shortly before the start of the event.
|11||Chinese Taipei 中华台北|
|12||Hong Kong, China 中国香港|
|20||North Macedonia 北马其顿|
|28||San Marino 圣马力诺|
|39||Saudi Arabia 沙特|
|44||Great Britain 英国|
|46||Russian Olympic Committee 俄罗斯奥林匹克委员会|
|50||Bosnia and Herzegovina 波斯尼亚和黑塞哥维那|
|56||United States of America 美国|
|57||American Samoa 美属萨摩亚|
|58||Virgin Islands 美属维尔京群岛|
|63||Trinidad and Tobago 特立尼达和多巴哥|
|68||Czech Republic 捷克共和国|
|73||South Korea 韩国|
|80||New Zealand 新西兰|
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