Designed to appeal to the worldwide TV audience more so than the 40,000 spectators at Fisht Stadium, the Parade of Nations will be set against an image of Earth, projected on a giant screen, as seen from outer space. Each time a country is announced, the Earth will rotate so that particular country is in focus. Then, on the stadium floor, a ramp will open up, and that nation’s athletes will emerge from the heart of their homeland.
As is IOC custom, Greece will parade first, and athletes of the host nation, Russia, will be announced last. But for those following along on TV, it’s important to note that the countries will march in according to alphabetical order: In this case, the Russian alphabet.
Seven countries are making their Winter Games debut: Dominica, Malta, Paraguay, East Timor (Timor-Leste), Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe. Among the notable athletes vying for Olympic glory in Sochi are a Russian luger and Japanese ski jumper competing in a record seventh Winter Games, a 55-year-old Mexican alpine skier and freshly minted 2012 London Olympic gold medalist Lauryn Williams, who has transitioned from track to bobsled.