Commonwealth athletes encouraged to embrace “diverse yet unified” family of nations
HRH The Prince of Wales officially opens the Games on behalf of the Head of The Commonwealth, Her Majesty The Queen
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President, Louise Martin CBE declared the Commonwealth as “more relevant than ever before” as she spoke to a global TV audience of 1.5 billion people at the opening of the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia this evening.
The Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games took place in a packed Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, the host city for the XXI Commonwealth Games. Cheered on by a stadium audience of over 35,000, the ceremony welcomed and introduced the 4,600 Commonwealth athletes ready to stake their claim on the global sporting stage.
Addressing the athletes, commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin CBE encouraged them to “grasp the opportunity, right here, right now” and said: “Today, there is a renewed focus on what our family of nations stands for and who we are. The Commonwealth is now more relevant than ever before. We have a great opportunity to be the global leader in demonstrating how we can successfully thrive together, as both a deeply diverse yet unified family of 2.4 billion people. It is this unbreakable Commonwealth connection that enables us to have a positive impact on each other and on the world we share.”
As part of a segment looking back on the epic journey of the Queen’s Baton Relay, the Queen’s Baton entered the stadium for its final moments – brought in to the stadium in a combi van by multiple Commonwealth gold medallist swimmer Susie O’Neill before Athlete Sally Pearson AOM presented the baton to HRH Prince of Wales, who read aloud the message from Her Majesty The Queen contained within the baton to officially declare the Games open.
The ceremony drew strongly on Aboriginal, Indigenous and First Nations cultures – symbolic of the Games’ overarching commitment to reconciliation and inclusivity through sport. The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be the first major sporting event in Australia with a far-reaching Reconciliation Action Plan, co-created and supported by an Indigenous Working Group and the local Yugambeh Elders Advisory Group. Yugambeh Elders Ted Williams and Patricia O’Connor – who travelled to London in 2017 to launch the Queen’s Baton Relay alongside Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace – accompanied Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in to the stadium.
The Ceremony told a universal story – with staging inspired by the landscape, elements and iconography of the region – and opened with Isabella Graham, 11, from Minjerribah on North Stradbroek Island, beginning the countdown.
Gold Coast 2018 Chairman Peter Beattie AC said: “Our promise to all of you is that for the next eleven days we will be focussed on making sure these Games are special – leaving us all with fantastic memories of what happens when welcome together with open hearts and a spirit of friendship.”
Ceremonies Artistic Director David Zolkwer, said: “Tonight, as the Commonwealth comes together once again, and before the competitions and races begin, our Ceremony is a reminder that we are all actually part of a single race – the human race.”
The Parade of Nations track was a specially commissioned artwork drawing on indigenous and local culture and mythology, featuring stars, surfboards, sea animals and shells. Building on the surprise addition of Scottie Dogs to the Athletes’ Parade in Glasgow 2014, Gold Coast 2018’s 71 nations and territories were walked out by “nippers” – an Aussie institution, which sees young people learn all about teamwork, respect and sea and surf awareness and safety. They walked out the athletes with their parent or guardian, carrying a surfboard bearing the country name. Georgie Holyman from Mermaid Beach Surf Lifesaving Club on the Gold Coast will walk out Team Vanuatu on her 11th birthday.
The sporting competition for Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games commences tomorrow with 19 gold medals across 13 sports to be contested in 14 venues. Over one million tickets have been sold for the sporting spectacle – the largest sporting event to be held in Australia since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.