RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)-- After 18 gold medals and 22 medals overall in his storied Olympic career, Michael Phelps has finally entered an opening ceremony.
The flagbearer for the U.S. has led the contingent of red, white and blue-clad American athletes into Maracana Stadium, after being picked for that distinction earlier this week.
More than 500 Americans are on the Olympic team, though as was the case with Phelps in past years, not all of them marched in the opening. Phelps' competition schedule kept him from attending the first four openings of his Olympic career, and many athletes from around the world -- if they're competing on Saturday -- tend to pass on the ceremony.
The U.S. women's soccer team wasn't at the stadium because of their schedule and how far they are from the opening, but planned on having their own private ceremony of sorts. Players were set to wear their ceremony uniforms and essentially pretend marching, as if they were in Rio.
Athletes spend hours on their feet at the opening and often get to their beds well past midnight, not exactly the best situation for athletes looking to perform their best a day later.
Phelps said in the days leading up to the opening that he wants to "take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud. This time around, it's about so much more than medals."