Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Why Are The Countries Out Of Order At The Closing Ceremony? There's A Special Reason Behind The Change

Ad failed to load

It's always exciting to watch as the world's best athletes unite to compete in the Olympic Games, but now that the events have finished and the medals have been won, it's time to wrap things up and celebrate. For those unable to watch the early-morning livestream of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games closing ceremony, it will also broadcast later in the day on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, according to TIME. But unlike at the opening ceremony, we won't actually get to know in advance when Team USA will appear. Why are the countries out of order at the closing ceremony? It all comes down to official Olympic protocol.

A major part of the opening ceremony of any Olympic Games is the Parade of Nations, where each national team is formally introduced before walking behind their designated flag bearer. Participating in the Parade of Nations is an exciting honor, but there are rules for how it's actually done. For one, the countries typically march "in alphabetical order according to the language of the host country," according to the International Olympic Committee, with the exception of Greece — which as the original Olympic host city, always leads — and that year's host country, which always appears last.

Ad failed to load

During the closing ceremony however, things are done a little differently. Instead of the Parade of Nations, the first element of the closing ceremony following the playing of the host country's national anthem is the Parade of Flags, according to the International Olympic Committee. The flag parade works in a similar way to the opening ceremony parade — that is, the Greek flag is carried out first by a chosen member of the Greek national team, the host country's flag is carried out last, and all the other flags appear in alphabetical order. The athletes themselves then appear immediately following the flag parade, but this time, they aren't actually separated by country. During the closing ceremony, all the athletes enter the stadium together, in no particular order whatsoever.

Although that might not be the easiest way for Olympic viewers to specifically catch a glimpse of their favorite athletes, it is a pretty important symbolic gesture. After all, although the competition between countries during the games themselves might be fierce, the closing ceremony is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate everything they've worked so hard to achieve over the past two weeks.

Ad failed to load

What's interesting though is that, actually, the closing ceremony protocol didn't always work that way. Originally, athletes in the closing ceremony walked in order according to country, just like in the opening ceremony, but that all changed during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, when 17-year-old Australian John Ian Wing wrote to organizers of the games and suggested athletes walk as one big group. According to the National Museum of Australia, Wing argued that doing so would represent athletes' "common humanity and unity in sport," and well, Olympic organizers liked the idea so much that it's been the tradition ever since.

On Friday, the United States Olympic Committee announced that cross-country skier (and PyeongChang gold medalist) Jessie Diggins would be carrying the flag on behalf of Team USA at the closing ceremony, meaning she will be front and center during the flag parade. As for the rest of the American athletes though? Your best shot at spotting them in the crowd will be to keep an eye out for their outfits. According to E! News, the Ralph Lauren-designed closing ceremony uniforms will include a white water-repellent jacket over a red, white, and blue sweater, worn with double-fleece blue plants. Unlike the opening ceremony uniform, the brown suede gloves will be swapped out for a more basic set of knitted mittens, but the Team USA hat and red-laced boots will stay the same.

Ad failed to load

Honestly, the closing ceremony at any Olympic Games is kind of bittersweet. Even though it's fun to watch the athletes celebrate their accomplishments, and to see the host country hand the proverbial baton to the next country set to host in four years' time, it's also a shame to see it all come to an end. But unlike the opening ceremony, which was full of excited anticipation, the closing ceremony is just a really good time — as well as a reminder that, no matter where an athlete may have landed on the podium or in the rankings, they definitely did their country (and the world) proud.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik