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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Korean alphabet trips up Winter Olympic viewers at opening ceremony in Pyeongchang

Sequence in which countries marched out during ceremony was in Korean, not English, alphabetical order

Unified Korea were the last team to march out during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. Loic Venance / AFP
Unified Korea were the last team to march out during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. Loic Venance / AFP

The apparently random sequence in which countries marched out at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics had many observers scratching their heads, but it was indeed in alphabetical order - in Korean.

Greece emerged first into the arena on a sub-zero on Friday night, in line with tradition because that is where the Games originated from.

But next to march, to much bewilderment among non-Koreans, was the skeleton athlete Akwasi Frimpong, the flag bearer for Ghana.

Compounding the confusion for many, Ghana were followed by Nigeria, South Africa and then the Netherlands.

Organisers in South Korea clarified that none of this had been a mistake and said the order was based on the Korean alphabet, Hangul, which was developed in the 15th century to replace Chinese characters.

Countries at the Olympics always enter the Games in alphabetical order according to the language of the host nation.

Last to march out at the curtain-raiser were North and South Korea - they were behind a unified flag and the hosts are always the final ones out.

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