Commonwealth Games 2018: Gold Coast opens with spectacular ceremony
Nature has this habit of throwing a spanner into the best-laid plans. Otherwise, who would have expected rain in April in Queensland, known as the Sunshine State in Australia.
Organisers of the Commonwealth Games 2018 would have been reminded of nature’s supremacy as unseasonal showers threatened to disrupt the opening ceremony of the XXI edition at Gold Coast on Wednesday night. Unseasonal rains have lashed the region for the last couple of days and there was a brief spell of showers before the start of the ceremony.
But the organising committee had anticipated this spell and was well prepared. Besides the hard work, planning, coordination and enthusiasm of the people of the Sunshine State, weather gods relented and there was no disruption to the ceremony.
Gold Coast laid out a grand welcome the 6600 athletes and thousands of others guests from 71 countries and territories with a spectacular opening ceremony.
A pageantry of Australian culture with traditional music, dance and arts took centre stage as they presented a smorgasbord of colour, water, surf and sand with local artists and musicians leaving the Carrara Stadium reverberating well after they had left the stage.
With the ceremony, the city of Gold Coast celebrated things the Australians have cherished, their unique land, distinctive flora and fauna, and fun-loving disposition and culture. They mixed that with elements from the past and present along with a projection of the future. They put forth a brilliant composition of sound and dance that lived up to the Commonwealth Games Federation’s motto of friendship.
The ceremony, which briefly became a bit flat, featured a creative mix of ancient and modern Australia, connected by an array of classic and distinctive Australian images that helped tell a universal story of inclusiveness and diversity.
It had the rare white humpback whale Migaloo, which migrates 12,000km up the east coast of Australia from Antarctica each year, splashing his way from the beginning to the end of the ceremony.
What also caught the eye was the performance by the Bulabula Yarga Didgeridoo Orchestra, with their ancient Aboriginal symbols and ceremonies that showcased the world’s oldest living culture and highlighted the beauty and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Forgotten in this throwback to the past was the strained relations and conflict that has had some of the indigenous people threatening to protest during the Games.
Some of Australia’s great sports stars, including swimmer Susie O’Niel, Brent Livermore and Sally Pearson brought the Queens Baton into the stadium for Prince Charles to read out the message of Queen Elizabeth II and declare the Games open.
The athletes’ march past started with Scotland and ended with hosts Australia, from whom retiring hockey star Mark Knowles was the flag-bearer.
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu was the flag-bearer as she led the Indian contingent into the stadium. The Indian squad members wore trendy attire, having discarded the sari and pagadi (head gear). Not many would mind the sartorial switch if India go on to improve their medal haul of 2014.
Let the Games begin!