GOLD COAST, The 2018 Commonwealth Games officially opened in spectacular fashion at the Carrara Stadium here amidst a glitter of fireworks as hosts Gold Coast bid a warm and rapturous welcome to the turnout of 6,600 athletes and officials from 71 countries.
The Gold Coast rolled out an opening ceremony directed by GC2018 Project and Artistic Director David Zolkwer who has worked on the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, as well as the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The ceremony begain with a short countdown sequence that carried a message unique to this place before the air tingled with a burst of pyrotechnics which created a vivid blue dome of light, representing the blue planet in the centre of the space when the countdown reached '0'.
The opening ceremony involving 4,000 volunteers has a deep significance representing a moment of reconnecting and regeneration, a ritual in which the ceremonial knowledge of the totemic system is passed down from Ancestors and Elders past, through Elders present to the Elders of the future.
The crowd roared when the cameras transported the audience to the threshold of the stadium where the three dignitaries -- the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Louise Martin, Chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Peter Beattie and President of Commonwealth Games Australia Sam Coffa stood in a crowd of athletes before the march-past by 14 athletes who had carried the flag in past Games, including track cyclist Anna Meares (2014), netball player Sharelle McMahon (Delhi 2010), Weightlifter Damian Brown (Manchester 2002), swimmer Kieren Perkins (Kuala Lumpur 1998), hurdler Pam Kilborn (Edinburgh 1970) and swimmer David Dickson (Kingston 1966).
They were then joined by an aspiring athlete, 19-year-old road race cyclist Madeleine Fasnacht, as a nod to the future and the next Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham in 2022.
The crowd cheered as the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla entered the stadium and were received by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull before the members of the Yugambeh Elders Advisory Group delivered the Welcome to the Country, which is a way in valuing and respecting appropriate Indigenous ceremonies for an increase in understanding and mutual respect for the cultural practices.
Following that, the Australian National Anthem was sung and the Australian flag flown, immediately followed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. As they sang, the images of a kangaroo and emu as depicted in the Australian coat of arms appeared in the sand.
Despite a drizzling and cold evening, the 35,000-odd crowd did not budge from their seats but continued enjoying the celebration of Gold Coast beach life and indigenous culture when dancing lifesavers took to the sand and a giant white whale floated across the stadium in the three-hour spectacular.
The spectators were treated to the story of the origins of Gold Coast inhabitants, celebrated the differences of people across the country and the region, emphasised the importance of strength and endurance while the conclusion featured people coming together with differences and similarities on full display.
The Lifesavers and Aboriginal performers took centre stage at the ceremony, with the middle of the stadium turned into an inland beach. Nippers clad in bright rashie vests and carrying matching pink rescue boards led the athletes from the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories into the stadium.
In the march-past for athletes and officials, Scotland, the previous hosts, led the way and they were followed by the other countries by region in alphabetical order before the Malaysian contingent came in behind Brunei Darussalam in the Asian region.
The Malaysian contingent led by chief-de-mission Huang Ying How were clad in blue and red Malay traditional costume 'baju kurung' and scarf for women and 'Baju Melayu' with 'sampin' for men athletes which were designed by noted Malaysian designer, Cosry.
National triple jump athlete Muhammad Hakimi Ismail was given the honour to be the flag bearer followed by 147 athletes and officials who have already arrived for their competitions which begin Thursday.
For this year's edition, the Malaysian contingent comprises 178 athletes and 95 officials. The 11-day Games feature 275 events with 6,600 athletes from 71 nations competing.
The loudest cheers were saved for the home contingent which stepped out in style led by the Australian chef-de-mission Steve Moneghetti and champion hockey player Mark Knowles as the flag bearer.
After a short performance sequence evoking an imagined journey of the Queen's Baton through some of the breath-taking experiences to be found on the Gold Coast, the Baton which contained Queen Elizabeth's message was relayed around the stadium by six iconic athletes, finally to be presented to The Prince of Wales, who read out her message.
In her message, the Queen acknowledged that sport could be a great force for good which could help to create harmony between communities and unite people in the spirit of friendship and competition.
"There are rare opportunities to be so symbolically connected in this way and these Games provide one such chance to reflect on the ideals and ambitions that bring us together as one Commonwealth Family. It reminds us that we may be far away from each other in distance, but we are close in spirit, values and friendship," the Queen said.
A colourful fireworks display then erupted over the Carrara Stadium with the crowd whipping out their smartphones and cameras to record the occasion.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK