Why does Greece lead the marching order for the Closing Ceremony at the Winter Olympics?

olympic flame 2

Greece traditionally leads the parade, regardless of its place in the alphabet, because that is where the Olympics originated. The host country enters last.

Like the Opening Ceremony, this year’s Closing Ceremony at the Beijing Winter Olympics featured a parade of nations, where flag bearers from all the competing countries marched into Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium.

Greek Olympics Beijing parade
Beijing Opening ceremony parade winter Olympics Team Greece

Historically, Greece the birthplace of the Olympics is always the first country to march into the Olympic venue of the host nation. The host country in this point China is the last nation to march out.

The International Olympic Committee recently changed the rules to have the hosts of the next Olympics enter right before the host nation.

Italy will welcome the world for the Winter Games in 2026, so its flag-bearer entered before the Chinese.

All other flag bearers then march out in alphabetical order based on the host country’s official language.

Because the Chinese use characters rather than an alphabet, the order for the Opening and Closing ceremonies was chosen based on the stroke order of the first character of the nation’s name in Chinese.

That’s why this year spectators saw the flag of Turkey come out second as opposed to that of Albania’s, which would have been the one to follow Greece if the Olympics were hosted in an English-speaking country.

For the Beijing Closing Ceremony, the flag bearers also came out in two separate lines. With Greece leading half the group in order, while China led the remaining half in reverse order.

Closing Ceremony Flag Bearer Country Order for Winter Olympics

 

  1. Greece
  2. Turkey
  3. Malta
  4. Madagascar
  5. Malaysia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Eritrea
  8. Jamaica
  9. Belgium
  10. Japan
  11. Chinese Taipei
  12. Hong Kong
  13. Denmark
  14. Ukraine
  15. Uzbekistan
  16. Brazil
  17. Pakistan
  18. Israel
  19. East Timor
  20. North Macedonia
  21. Luxembourg
  22. Belarus
  23. India
  24. Lithuania
  25. Nigeria
  26. Ghana
  27. Canada
  28. San Marino
  29. Kyrgyzstan
  30. Armenia
  31. Spain
  32. Liechtenstein
  33. Iran
  34. Hungary
  35. Iceland
  36. Andorra
  37. Finland
  38. Croatia
  39. Saudi Arabia
  40. Albania
  41. Argentina
  42. Azerbaijan
  43. Latvia
  44. Great Britain
  45. Romania
  46. Russian Olympic Committee
  47. France
  48. Poland
  49. Puerto Rico
  50. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  51. Bolivia
  52. Norway
  53. Kazakhstan
  54. Kosovo
  55. Bulgaria
  56. United States
  57. American Samoa
  58. Virgin Islands
  59. Thailand
  60. Netherlands
  61. Georgia
  62. Colombia
  63. Trinidad and Tobago
  64. Peru
  65. Ireland
  66. Estonia
  67. Haiti
  68. Czech Republic
  69. Philippines
  70. Slovenia
  71. Slovakia
  72. Portugal
  73. South Korea
  74. Montenegro
  75. Chile
  76. Austria
  77. Switzerland
  78. Sweden
  79. Mongolia
  80. New Zealand
  81. Serbia
  82. Cyprus
  83. Mexico
  84. Lebanon
  85. Germany
  86. Moldova
  87. Monaco
  88. Morocco
  89. Australia
  90. Italy
  91. China

Olympic Anthem Sung in Greek by 40 Chinese Children at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony