The 2018 Winter Olympics has officially launched. I am an ardent follower of the Olympics and anticipate amazing athletic feats, as always. To start this Olympic Journey, I, along with millions, watched the Opening Ceremonies. It’s something I feel like I should do before I can partake in the Olympic Games as an irrelevant observer.
The Parade of Nations is one of my favourite parts of the Ceremony since we see athletes from around the world walk together with pride, respect and controversy. Instead of simplifying the show with a staid Olympic runway, there are always athletes who opt for a more memorable twist.
Here are some of those paraders:
1. The Clothing-optional Paraders
It was a cool -15 °C/5 °F inside the stadium, but that didn’t sway some clothing choices. There were some athletes determined to bare what was best. The Bermuda team braved the cold, amusingly sporting Bermuda shorts.
The long socks are probably warm enough.
Taufatofoa, the sole athlete from Tonga, performed an encore of his Rio 2016 opening ceremony walk and came out slicked-back and bare-chested.
Note: The clothing-optional suggestion should have been applied to the strange bear-paw mitts that the American Olympians wore.
2. The Somewhat Synchronized Paraders
The Czech Republic contingent strutted in with apt style but then all of a sudden attempted a synchronized movement. Many of them bent down or keeled over in some sort of unison. It was a confusing but somewhat synchronized gesture, and noteworthy enough to make it onto this list.
You can see some of the athletes start or finish what is to be a confusing movement.
3. The Dancing Paraders
The one-man team from Ghana, Frimpong, was one of the first to enter the parade and quickly energized the stage as he grooved to the music.
Frimpong in mid-boogie.
The Jamaican team also showed us their power as they casually bopped to the beat.
All the world’s a stage.
4. The Paraders Formerly Known as…
The Olympic Games are naturally bound with controversies, and this Games proves no different. The more sombre appearances during the Parade came from countries with unfamiliar flags: Russia and Taiwan. Both contingents marched in without carrying their own flag, but for different reasons.
Russia is embroiled in an infamous doping scandal, stripping many athletes of their ability to compete in the Games or compete in the name of Russia (the Russian group is officially known as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia”). This means that they can’t carry their flag nor hear their anthem during medalling.
The team from Russia is barred from wearing their national colours and from choosing a flag bearer that is from Russia.
Taiwan (Republic of China), however, is in a political spar against China (People’s Republic of China) over sovereignty. A long, detailed history would better explain this situation, but here, it suffices to say, that to encourage both parties to compete on an international level, Taiwan is referred to as Chinese Taipei and uses a different flag as a result.
Olympic Athletes from Chinese Taipei.
The more confusing appearance comes from North and South Korea. They entered together with a new flag depicting a unified Korea. This is not a surprising move since this unified march has been well publicized (and has happened in past Olympics), but is still interesting to see how the Koreas’ plans unfold on the Olympic stages. Calls for peace are different from calls for unification and many feel betrayed by the spectacle. Others are more hopeful and see this as a symbol of upcoming prosperity between both groups. Talks of peace, unification and protest circulate the event and we will see what diplomatic triumphs can be gleaned from the Games.
South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics.
5. The Canadian Paraders
The Canadian contingent arrived in a big, smiley wave of red and white. Along with their 226-person-strong squad, Canada was unique in having two flag bearers instead of one. (The Korea contingent also had two, but one represented North while the other represented South) One female and one male athlete, both part of the Virtue-Moir ice-dance powerhouse, were the chosen flag bearers. This is a timely move as Canada recently approved a gender-neutral revision of their national anthem, but also as gender equity becomes more palpable in the modern world.
They aren’t saying sorry for marching forward.
If you are searching for more interesting ways to parade, look to these moments for inspiration. Whether through political statements, dance or clothing (or lack of it), making a noteworthy Olympic entrance is possible, though improbable.