The Olympic protocol
A recap on the key steps of an Opening Ceremony
The ceremonies have been a part of the Games since ancient Greece times, but only in the last decade, starting from Moscow 1980, has the Opening Ceremony become the great spectacle as we know it today, which entertains millions of people around the world every four years. Even if the more artistic part is in the hands of the host Country, there is a strict protocol that cannot be modified and is applicable to every Olympic edition. The ceremony starts with the hoisting of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the host Country, followed by the artistic show which features elements that are typical of the local culture and tradition, together with references to the Olympic spirit. The end of the show marks the start of the more traditional part of the ceremony, which includes the parade of the participating nations, which make their entrance in alphabetical order, apart from Greece that always enters the stadium first and the host Country, which is the last to march in. Once all nations have entered the stadium, the Presidents of the Organizing Committee and of the International Olympic Committee hold their speeches, followed by the declaration of official opening of the Games by the host Country's head of state.
After the Olympic flag has been raised and the Olympic anthem played, an athlete and a judge take an oath on respecting and abiding by the rules on behalf of all participants in the Games. Finally, the Olympic torch is brought into the stadium and passed from athlete to athlete until the last torch-bearer, who has the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron.