Glitzy opening ceremony kicks off Glasgow Commonwealth Games
Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood music provided the Indian connect as Scotland ushered in the 20th Commonwealth Games with a dazzling and colourful opening ceremony which celebrated the country’s culture and heritage to set the ball rolling for the 11-day sporting extravaganza.
Welcoming over 4500 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations, the ceremony had its share of sombre moments when silence was observed for the 298 victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight which was shot down over Ukraine last week.
A surprisingly subdued Glasgow suddenly sprang to life and exuberance with a three-hour mesmerising show of light and sound and colourful hues which the organisers claimed was watched by more than one billion people.
As per convention, the head of Commonwealth countries Queen Elizabeth II declared the Games Open. “It is my greatest pleasure to declare the 20th Commonwealth Games open” Her Majesty said under a blue Glasgow sky to signal Scotland’s third CWG and first after 1986 when Duke of Edinburgh played host.
A host of dignitaries including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Scottish government’s first minister Alex Salmond and Commonwealth Games Federation President Prince Imran Tunku also added to the start of Scotland’s biggest sporting event which is estimated to have cost the host country around USD one billion.
Britain’s most successful Olympian cyclist and a Scot himself, Sir Chris Hoy was given the honour of presenting the Queens Baton to Her Majesty who read out her message to the Commonwealth before declaring open the Games to be competed for 11 days among 4929 athletes from 71 nations and territories of the erstwhile British Empire.
India got some attention with cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar turning up in a brief video clip, urging people to donate for the improvement of the living condition of children throughout the world in his role as the Global Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF which partnered with Glasgow 2014 in a first-of-its-kind initiative.
The Indian contingent headed by flag-bearer and Olympic silver medallist shooter Vijay Kumar led the Parade of Nations, by virtue of being hosts in 2010 Delhi edition. The the men looked dapper in black blazers and Gray trousers along with headgear while the women athletes were dressed in saris.
The 35,000 capacity Celtic stadium cheered as the Indians entered to the tune of popular Bollywood numbers. England also got a rousing welcome despite the Games being held a few months before the Scottish vote on September 18 to decide whether they will remain a part of United Kingdom or become a separate nation.
The host contingent, dressed in their traditional attire and walking under their flag Saltire, understandably got a deafening reception while coming in last. With the packed crowd joining in singing and dancing along with the exuberant volunteers and even the athletes, the laser lights beamed the colours of the national flags of the participating countries in the nearly 50-minute Parade of Nations setting the stadium in different hues.The centrepiece of the opening ceremony, produced by global specialists of such events Jack Morton Worldwide, was the near-100m wide and 11m high LED screen erected in front of the South Stand at Celtic Park to broadcast images on the night.