Birmingham (UK), July 30, 2022
Birmingham opened its Commonwealth Games in spectacular style with a captivating, hopeful ceremony at Alexander Stadium, BBC Sport Journalist Becky Grey reported.
She said that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai emphasised the importance of education in a surprise appearance while diver Tom Daley made a show of support for LGBTQ+ rights as the baton relay concluded.
“But the biggest shock perhaps came when a 10 m tall animatronic bull came steaming into the stadium as part of a ceremony that celebrated the multiculturalism of both Birmingham and the Commonwealth,” she said in the report published by BBC News.
Following is the report from the official website of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Local musical heroes Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi guest-starred on a night which celebrated Birmingham’s industrial heritage and its multicultural tradition, as competitors from the Commonwealth’s 72 nations and territories were cheered into the arena by a 30,000 crowd.
Family of Nations says the Queen
Charles, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in style, driving into the venue in an Aston Martin as part of a convoy of 72 cars which formed a Union Jack viewed from above.
He officially declared the 22nd edition of the Games open, with a spectacular fireworks display bringing the ceremony to an end and heralding the start of the world’s first major multisport event to take place free of Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic took hold.
Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s message to the Commonwealth Games.
She said that the Games “remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations.”
Prince Charles added: “Tonight, in the words of the founder of the Games, we embark once again on a novel adventure here in Birmingham, a pioneering city which has drawn in and embraced so many throughout its history. It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and one which now welcomes you all in friendship.”
A stunning spectacle also included a Red Arrows fly-past and an appearance from a 10-metre high ‘Raging Bull,’ in a section of the ceremony which focused on the plight of female chain-makers in the early 20th century.
More than 5000 athletes will compete in 280 events across 19 sports in the 10 days coming up, with a para-sports programme integrated into the Games. It will also be the first major multi-sport games to award more medals to women than men – 136 and 134.
Other ‘firsts’ for Birmingham’s Games include a Commonwealth debut for women’s T20 cricket and for 3×3 basketball as the Games continue their bid to evolve.
The ceremony also featured an appearance from activist Malala Yousafzai. The 25-year-old, who now lives in Birmingham, campaigns and raises funds for girls’ education programmes in her native Pakistan. Her determination to stand up for her beliefs almost cost her life, when she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in 2012.
“Tonight teams from 72 countries and territories join the people of Birmingham to celebrate friendship across borders. They represent millions of girls and boys and our shared goal, where every child can go to school, where women can fully participate in society and where families can live in peace and dignity. Remember, every child deserves her chance to fulfil her potential and pursue her wildest dreams,” Malala said.
All around the city is the slogan ‘Sport is Just the Beginning.’
Games organisers want sports to be the vehicle to start the conversations and prompt the actions necessary to tackle inequality and discrimination across the Commonwealth.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Tom Daley emerged flanked by Pride flags as a part of a historic statement against homophobia – one of six final torch-bearers to enter the stadium, each of whom represented a different cause or under-represented minority that is closest to their heart.
Uncertainty and the darker side
BBC’s Becky Grey said that ceremony alluded to the darker side of the Commonwealth’s past, with chains representing those used in the slave trade pulling the giant bull into the stadium.
“But it also called for togetherness for a group of nations whose future is becoming increasingly uncertain, with competing nation Barbados already having replaced the Queen as its Head of State and Jamaica’s Prime Minister saying it will be “moving on.” Daley has previously spoken out against Commonwealth countries that criminalise same-sex relationships and the diver has continued that work in a new BBC documentary. He brought the cause into the stadium too, with the Olympic champion entering the stadium flanked by activists holding LGBT+ flags as he played his part in the Queen’s baton relay shortly before the Games were officially declared open.
The weight of legacy hung in the air before the ceremony even began, as Birmingham residents flooded to the stadium to celebrate their city being at the centre of a global event,” she said.
About the Commonwealth Games
The 2022 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games and commonly known as Birmingham 2022, is an international multi-sport event for members of the Commonwealth, taking place in Birmingham, England from 28 July to 8 August 2022.
These Games are conducted under the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) banner.
Birmingham was announced as host on December 21, 2017, marking England’s third time hosting the Commonwealth Games after London 1934 and Manchester 2002, and the seventh Games in the United Kingdom, after London and Manchester, Cardiff (1958), Edinburgh (1970 and 1986) and Glasgow (2014).
Two cities initially launched bids for the games: Durban, South Africa and Edmonton, Canada.
Edmonton withdrew its bid in February 2015, leaving Durban as the only bid in September 2015. Durban initially secured the right to host the games, having been considered bidding for the 2020 or 2024 Summer Olympics, but later dropped the idea as it wanted to focus on the 2022 Commonwealth Games. It would have marked the first games in Africa and the second in a Commonwealth Republic, following Delhi in 2010. The games were set to open on July 18, 2022, coinciding with the birthday of the late South African President, Nelson Mandela.
It was reported in February 2017 that Durban might be unable to host the games due to financial constraints. This was confirmed on March 13, 2017, when the CGF stripped Durban of their rights to host the Games.
Birmingham was chosen as the host for the Commonwealth Games 2022 on August 11, 2020.
The closing ceremony is scheduled to be held on August 8, 2022, at Alexander Stadium. It will include the formal handover to the State of Victoria in Australia, the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Source: BBC News, Commonwealth Games 2022 Website