Tokyo 2020: How the order of countries is determined during the Olympics opening ceremony

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Italian athletes make their walk during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
Italian athletes make their walk during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. AP Photo/Ashley Landis
  • The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics officially marked the start of the Summer Games.

  • Greece was the first nation to make its entrance, while host nation Japan closed the show.

  • The rest of the order was determined by the Japanese alphabet, save for a few exceptions.

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After a year of wondering whether or not the games would go on, the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics marked the official start of Tokyo 2020.

On Friday morning in the United States, and Friday night in Tokyo, athletes from across the world made their march into Japan National Stadium bearing their flags proudly.

The scene was a bit different than previous years. Without the roaring crowds, there were far less people for athletes to wave to as they made the walk.

There were also some changes to the order that countries made their entrance.

As per tradition, Greece was the first country to walk out, celebrating the country's role as the historic home of the Olympic Games and the host of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

Closing the show, as always, was the host nation, with Japan's delegation of athletes being the final group to make the walk into the arena.

The rest of the order of entrances is determined by alphabetical order of the language of the host nation, in this case, Japanese.

The two exceptions made this year were to the United States and France. Rather than taking their spot in alphabetical order with the rest of the delegations at the games, USA and France walked out just before Japan closed the show, celebrating their role as the next countries to host the Olympics.

When the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics come around in three years, hopefully the opening ceremony will be filled with fans cheering on the athletes as they make their entrance.

This year's games will undoubtedly feel different without fans in attendance, but after a year's delay, Friday's opening ceremony was a moment worth celebrating.

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