Streuth! Aussies demoted to late night parade spot in Beijing

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Streuth! Aussies demoted to late night parade spot in Beijing

Australia will be one of the last countries to enter the Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony because the use of Chinese characters has scrambled the traditional order, the team’s chief said Tuesday.

“It has been confirmed that we will be nation number 203 in for the opening ceremony, followed just by Zambia and China,” John Coates, head of the

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), told reporters in Beijing.

“So we will be at the tail and not at the front,” he said.

Australia is used to being one of the first teams to enter the stadium at Olympic opening ceremonies, as the order is normally determined by the Roman alphabet.

However, Coates said that Australia’s position would this time be

determined by the number of strokes in the first character of its Chinese name -- 15.

Only Zambia, with 16, has more strokes in its first character, while China as host nation would enter the stadium last. Meanwhile, South Korea is expected to be followed immidiately by North Korea . In the past both Koreas have entered jointly the Olympic opening ceremonies under a flag depicting the Korean peninsula.

In the Chinese system, Guinea and Japan are likely to be among the first countries to enter the National Stadium.

Traditionally, Greece, the host of the original Olympics, is the first country in the parade, with the host nation bringing up the rear.

The announcement by Coates appeared to give away one of the secrets for the opening ceremony, details of which have been kept secret by organisers.

A spokeswoman for the Beijing organising committee would not confirm the order to AFP, saying she had not been told how it would be decided.

More than 10,000 performers are expected to take part in the ceremony on August 8 that will include the athletes’ parade and the lighting of the Olympic flame.

AOC spokesman Mike Tancred said the team saw the late place as an advantage, as it would mean the athletes would not be standing in the stadium for so long.

In addition, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the communist nation will compete in more than 10 disciplines during the Aug. 8-24 Olympics, including archery, boxing, wrestling, table tennis and swimming, Pravda reported. “Now they are all full of confidence to display the honor of the (North) with high scores by applying Korean-style competing principles and methods in each game,” KCNA said.

The size of the North’s squad is the second largest since it sent 75 athletes to the 1992 Games in Barcelona, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

The North sent 36 athletes to the 2004 Athens Olympics. The North is sending a larger delegation apparently because of its geographic and political closeness to China, ministry official Lee Jeong-taek said.

Beijing is Pyongyang’s major ally and a main aid donor to North Korea.

The North’s No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam, is also reportedly attending the opening ceremony for the Beijing Games.

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