A GRAND APPEARANCE

This is the order of countries marching at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony

The Czech Republic at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The Czech Republic at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Image: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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South Korea spent 116 billion won ($109 million) on an Olympic stadiumย that will be used precisely four times before it is torn down. The first of these events will be for the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Nearly 3,000 athletes from 92 countries and territories will march into the newly builtย Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9 to kick off the winter games. This will be the largest number of athletes in the history of the Winter Olympics, despite the fact that Russia, a powerhouse in the winter games, is not officially competing as a result of a state-sponsored doping scandal.ย (That said, 169 Russian athletes with no history of doping have been cleared to compete neutrallyย under the Olympic flag and the designation โ€œOlympic Athletes from Russia.โ€)

While opening ceremonies can run over three hours, a big highlight of the show is the parade of nations. The processionย has its roots in the 1908 London games, and in 1928, at the Amsterdam games, three rules were established to determine the order of the countries:

  • Greece marches first, in honor of the fact that the Olympics has its origin in ancient Greece.
  • The host nation goes last.ย This year at Pyeongchang, the South and North Korean delegation will march together under the unified Korean flag.
  • The remaining countries are ordered alphabetically in the language of the host nation. In the case of the Pyeongchang games, that will be Korean.

The last rule will give some unexpected places an opportunity to stand out. Ghana, for example, will be the first country in the lineup after Greece, and Hong Kong will have the penultimate appearance before the Korean delegation comes out.

In terms of scale, the US will have the biggest showing with 242 athletes, followed by Canada with 226 athletes, and Switzerland with 171 athletes.

When asked for an official list, a representative from the Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee did not provide one but confirmed there will be 91 nations in the parade (one less than the total number of nations and territories represented because of the unified Korean delegation) presented in Korean alphabetical order. The opening ceremony will commence today (Feb. 9) at 8pm local time, which is 11am in the UK and 6am in New York.

Hereโ€™s the full list and their order:

Update, Feb. 13: There were some variations in the final marching order, from the alphabetical list predicted by Quartz, possibly to accommodate certain diplomatic sensitivities. The Republic of Macedonia, which our list shows in the third spot, came in after France and before Finland. The athletes from Russia entered after Austria, and not after Latvia. Taiwan, which competes as Chinese Taipei, entered after Cyprus, and not after China. Iran and Israel were separated by Italy.