Filipino athletes join world’s best in Rio Olympics Parade of Nations
Ian Lariba carries the Philippine flag during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics. Jerome Ascano

SOME of the world's best athletes gathered at Maracana Stadium, with Greece leading off the parade of nations and Filipinos taking a share of the limelight on Friday in Brazil (Saturday, Manila time).

The Philippine delegation was led by table tennis player Ian Lariba, with the flag passed on to taekwondo jin Kirstie Alora towards the end of the march.

The parade featured stars such as former world No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Rafael Nadal, although there are a number of absences led by the world's fastest man Usain Bolt of Jamaica.

The Games will also miss several top players such as 17-time grand slam tennis winner Roger Federer, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and Fil-Australian world No. 1 golfer Jason Day, who are skipping the event for various reasons.

Though most nations at an Olympic Games enter the opening ceremony in alphabetical order, there are exceptions.

Greece goes first given its role as the birthplace of the Olympics.

The host nation are last, Brazil waiting until the end of the parade to make its grand entrance. In 2004, when Athens hosted the Olympics, the Greek athlete delegation entered last as well.

Another quirk for the opening is that the local language is used to alphabetize, meaning Portuguese this year.

So the United States of America — 198th in English alphabetical order out of the 207 participating teams — will enter 69th, since in Brazil the country's name translates to Estados Unidos da America.

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