Sports Illustrated recently complained that the Opening Ceremony is no longer about the athletes, but instead treats them like filler, and accused them of pandering by encouraging athletes to garb themselves in elaborately native gear they’d otherwise quite possibly never wear. On the former point, I see the argument — it’s nice to honor the host city, but who among us didn’t think, “I am pretty familiar with London already; I want to know more about the Independent Athletes”? — but on the latter… look, just because people don’t wear headdresses a lot in daily life, doesn’t mean it’s not important to them or to their country to show them off every once in a while. I say live large and let live large. Besides, some of the clothes give the flag-bearers a majestic moment they might not otherwise get unless you are watching the judo preliminaries at 3 a.m. Which, maybe you are. I don’t judge. I watched archery this morning and actually applauded.

ANYWAY: Let’s get to the flag-bearers (I will post more on the actual uniforms later). There are only so many slides I can put in these things, so if I missed anybody, I’m sorry. There are a pantload of nations at this sucker and there’s no way somebody wasn’t going to slip through the cracks. Consider this a representative sample, and if you want to nominate someone I missed, please go ahead and link to a photo in the comments. Hooray for the world.

[Photo: Getty]