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Commonwealth Games open in Birmingham with giant bull, classic cars and library on fire taking centre stage at opening ceremony

Written by on 29 July 2022

The 22nd Commonwealth Games has officially begun with a huge opening ceremony kicking off the competition in Birmingham.

Starting at 8pm and lasting about two and a half hours, the ceremony took place at the Alexander Stadium with Prince Charles watching from the stands.

It came almost 10 years to the day since the critically-acclaimed opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

Over the next 11 days, more than 5,000 athletes from a total of 72 nations will compete across 19 sports.

It will also be the first major multi-sport games to award more medals to women than men.

England, Australia and Canada will be joined by lesser-known federations such as Norfolk Island, which will be represented in the second city by 14 lawn bowlers.

Bearing the flag for Team England during the ceremony was diver Jack Laugher and weightlifter Emily Campbell.

As the ceremony began, the crowd of 30,000 people cheered and whistled while performers danced and sang.

UK Drag artist Ginny Lemon during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

Throughout the performance, a video played showing a star falling to earth and various people, known as Stella and the Dreamers, collecting pieces of it.

The ceremony aimed to tell the story of the group as they discover Birmingham, meeting historical people from the city, who are depicted with bizarre giant figures, and learning about its past as they go.

Actors perform during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander stadium in Birmingham, England, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The first part of the show concluded with 72 houses appearing in the stadium, representing each of the nations competing this year.

A tribute was also paid to the Queen for her leadership of the Commonwealth, with a combination of clips played showing various appearances and speeches during her role as the head of state.

While she is not at the opening ceremony, Charles and Camilla are there to represent the Royal Family – making quite the entrance by driving into the stadium in an Aston Martin.

Britain's Prince Charles, second form right, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive to take part in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander stadium in Birmingham, England, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Queen calls for people to celebrate Birmingham 2022 to remember ‘our connection with one another’

The Queen has said we should all celebrate the “particularly special sporting event” of the Commonwealth Games as a reminder of “our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations”.

The monarch’s message, which had been carried around the globe inside the Commonwealth baton, was read by her son the Prince of Wales at the opening ceremony of the games.

Speaking of the symbolic importance of the sporting event the Queen wrote, “On October 7 last year, this specially created baton left Buckingham Palace to travel across the Commonwealth.

“Over the past 294 days, it has carried not only my message to you, but also the shared hopes and dreams of each nation and territory through which it passed, as it made its way to Birmingham.”

As head of the Commonwealth, she stressed her sense of belief in the importance of the body of nations, adding: “Over the years, the coming together of so many for the Friendly Games has created memorable shared experiences, established long-standing relationships, and even created some friendly rivalries.

“But above all, they remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations.”

The Queen’s message to open the games also praised the “hard work and dedication” of the organisers and athletes.

The 95-year-old monarch, who has already started her summer break in Scotland, also made a special mention of the host city of Birmingham as she wrote: “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”.

Also appearing in a number of classic cars were a group of Birmingham residents, who formed a huge giant Union Jack with their vehicles.

Red, white and blue cars driven by local Birmingham residents form the British flag during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander stadium in Birmingham, England, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra then performed the national anthem alongside a choir and opera singer Samantha Oxborough.

As Stella and the Dreamers continue their journey, they are shown the fire of the Library of Birmingham in 1879, which destroyed a number of Shakespeare’s works and the building.

cast members perform during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander stadium in Birmingham, England, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

In a perhaps unexpected appearance, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafza took to the stage to deliver an inspirational speech about her experience in the city.

“Over the next few weeks, as we watch the incredible athletes of the Commonwealth Games, remember that every child deserves the chance to reach her full potential and pursue her wildest dreams,” she said.

The world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate was taken to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham in 2012 after she was shot in the head in Pakistan for demanding the right to education.

Performers dance in a water soaked stage during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

Her applauded speech was followed by a heartwarming song by two Birmingham singers, who were surrounded by dancers from around the West Midlands.

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai addresses the crowd during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander stadium in Birmingham, England, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Continuing on with the tale of the city, the performance entered a steampunk theme to depict the industrial revolution.

Performers during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

A giant mechanical bull was dragged into the stadium by 50 female chain-makers, leading actors to run and scream.

The beast was then “tamed” by Stella and the Dreamers and a bright celebration ensued with various different genres of dance performed.

The Women standing up to The Raging Bull during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022. The Women appears on top of The Raging Bull during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

As the dancers clashed, the once calm bull began to get agitated and the ceremony took a peaceful turn as performers came together to unite and restore peace.

Once the performances came to an end, competing athletes paraded into the stadium with Team England entering to We Will Rock You.

England's Emily Campbell and Jack Laugher lead the England team into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

CGF President Dame Louise Martin DBE said: “Our 72 nations and territories are all here – and Birmingham looks magnificent.

“The city and wider region will provide the perfect stage for our athletes to compete. I believe this event will be one of the greatest and most important editions of the Commonwealth Games in our 92-year history.”

A general view of fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

Olympian Tom Daley, who is not competing, appeared later in the Queen’s Baton Relay and used his role to highlight LGBTQ+ rights.

He was joined by Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Max Whitlock – who is also not competing – boxer Galal Yafai, British Paralympian and junior doctor Kim Daybell and retired hockey player Alex Danson-Bennett.

Galal Yafai (left) with the Queen's Baton during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

Games organisers want sport to be the vehicle to start the conversations and prompt the actions necessary to tackle inequality and discrimination across the Commonwealth.

The night concluded with a musical performance from Duran Duran, who were accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display.

A general view of fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022.

Unfortunately, Team England’s medal hopes were dealt a blow on Wednesday when sprinter Dina Asher-Smith was forced to withdraw from the games due to a hamstring injury.

Asher-Smith had broken her British record to finish fourth in the World 100m final last week and won a bronze medal in the 200m.

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