Friday, July 23, 2021

Olympics Parade of Nations order explained

If, like me, you are totally flummoxed by the order of countries at the Parade of Nations at the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, help is at hand. Someone has already done the homework.

The country order might seem pretty random. In Japan this year, for example, El Salvador is followed by Australia, then Austria, then Oman, Netherlands, Ghana, Cape Verde, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Qatar, etc. Further down the list, China is followed by Tunisia, Chile, Tuvalu, Denmark, Germany, Togo, Dominica, etc

But there is actually some order to it, some theory behind it. Firstly, Greece always parades first, in recognition of its role as the original inventors of the Games, back in the 8th century BCE. This year, a team of mixed refugee athletes enters second. The last team to enter is always the host country, and this year a new innovation has taken hold whereby the next Olympics host country (France, 2024) parades second to last, and the next host country after that (USA, 2028) is third to last.

Between these poles, countries parade in alphabetical order IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE HOST COUNTRY. So, depending on the language of the host country, the order of the countries parading may be similar to what we mignt expect in English, but might be totally different. Wikipedia does us the service of giving the Gojuon Japanese script transliteration of the country names (Gojuon is the traditional listing of the phonetic pronunciation of Japanese characters). Thus, Iceland is Aisurando, and thus comes just before Ireland (Airurando) and Azerbaijan (Azerubaijan). Cayman Islands (Keiman Shoto) isnfollowed by Kenya (Kenia), Ivory Coast (Kotojibowaru) and Costa Rica (Kosutarika), etc.

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