During the Parade of Nations portion of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, athletes from each country participating in the Olympics paraded in the arena, preceded by their flag. The flag was borne by a sportsperson from that country chosen either by the National Olympic Committee or by the athletes themselves to represent their country.
Per tradition, the national team of Greece, which hosted the previous Summer Olympics, in Athens, entered first as the progenitor of the Olympic Games, and the host country, in this case the People's Republic of China, marched last. All other nations marched in name order in the language of the host nation, which in this case is the Chinese language. The collation method used is based on the names as written in Simplified Chinese characters and is similar to that used in Chinese dictionaries. The names were sorted by the number of strokes in the first character of the name, then by the stroke order of the character (in the order 橫竖撇捺折, c.f. Wubi method), then the number of strokes and stroke order of the second character, then next character and so on. For example, this placed Australia (澳大利亚) in 202nd position, just ahead of Zambia (赞比亚) because the initial character for “Australia” (澳) is written in 15 strokes, while that for “Zambia” (赞) is written in 16 strokes.
An exception to the ordering was Macedonia, which entered under its provisional designation as used by the IOC, "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (前南斯拉夫马其顿共和国), but was sorted under 马其顿 (Mǎqídùn = "Macedonia.")
After marching in as a joint team in the previous two editions of the games, North Korea (Choson - 朝鲜; pinyin: Cháoxiǎn) and South Korea (Hanguk - 韩国; pinyin: Hánguó) marched in separate teams after negotiations failed for political reasons. The North Korean delegation were initially slated to march immediately after the South Korean delegation, but successfully requested a change of team designation which meant they were no longer ordered consecutively.
The Marshall Islands, Montenegro and Tuvalu competed for the first time in these Olympic Games, and also Serbia competed under this name for the first time after the 1912 Summer Olympics. Montenegro and Serbia were previously part of Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro. Brunei was excluded from the Games by the IOC shortly before the Opening Ceremony as no athletes had been registered. Brunei athletes would have marched 36th between Uzbekistan and Barbados.
Announcers in the stadium read off the names of the marching nations in French, English, (the official languages of the Olympics) and Mandarin Chinese with music accompanying the athletes as they marched into the stadium.
The following is a list of each country's flag bearer. The list is sorted by the order in which each nation appears in the parade of nations. This table is sortable by country name in English, country name in simplified Chinese, country name in pinyin, flag bearer name, and flag bearer sport. The names are given in their official designations by the IOC, and the Chinese names follow their official designations by the BOCOG.