According to sources, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) decided to have joint flag bearers for the continental event.
With an array of houses from around the Commonwealth, created using virtual reality, bringing back scenes of the bygone era to depict the most famous exports of the city and amid music, dance and a cultural milieu showcasing the life and times of the local people, the city of Birmingham welcomed 6,500 sportspersons from across 72 nations and territories for the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games at a gala opening ceremony here.
The two-hour programme, which featured a carnival-like display of Birmingham’s impressive inventions, buttons, car horns, celluloid film, and printing press, paid tribute to the working class at the Alexander Stadium through a raging bull, 10 metres high and built over five months, pulled in by female chain makers who would work long hours in hot and cramped outhouses to make small chains back in the 19th century.
The bull then shed its armour to symbolise the famous strikes of 1910, when female chain makers went on strike for better working conditions and won after 10 weeks, earning a new minimum wage that doubled their earnings. The collapsing bull symbolises victory.
The Indian delegation, led by two-time Olympic medalist shuttler P.V. Sindhu and men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, entered the stadium in ceremonial attire.
HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in the Prince’s own Aston Martin, which he purchased in the 1970s, while the Birmingham Royal Ballet displayed incredible athleticism. Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner for child rights and education, delivered an inspiring speech about the city’s multi-cultural identity.
“As we watch incredible athletes of the Commonwealth Games, each child deserves the chance to reach their full potential and pursue their wildest dreams,” said Malala in her speech.
The magnificent Bards of Brum represent some of the city’s most famous exports: William Shakespeare, composer Edward Elgar, the inventor of the modern dictionary Samuel Johnson, and the forefathers of modern Birmingham, the 18th-century Lunar Society.
Duran Duran returned to the city where their four-decade career began to create the finale to the ceremony’s stunning musical offer, featuring some of the city’s most celebrated artists and promoting its emerging talent on a global stage, from Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi to vocalists Indigo Marshall and Gambini, under the musical direction of rapper, artist, and educator Joshua ‘RTKal’ Holness.
With this soundtrack capturing their attention, the athletes paraded into the stadium, with Australia, the previous hosts of the Games in 2018, bringing their largest-ever team to the Games.
Instead of being paraded in alphabetical order, the teams entered the stadium representing their respective continents and with neighbouring countries providing company.
The Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and New Zealand have joined the list.
They were followed by African and Asian countries and territories.
The Prince of Wales received the Queen’s baton and read the Queen’s message.
(Inputs from IANS)