Double Olympic medalist badminton star PV Sindhu and Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh led India out as flagbearers for the athletes’ parade for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. The opening ceremony of the 22nd Commonwealth Games was held amid much fanfare and in front of an estimated 30,000 spectators, showcasing the very best of Birmingham and the whole of the UK.
Drummer-percussionist Abraham Paddy Tetteh started things off at the Alexander Stadium, and then, Indian classical vocalist and composer Ranjana Ghatak took the lead, the section intended to showcase the diversity of the city.
The two-hour program during which the organizers put up a carnival-like display that boasted Birmingham’s impressive inventions, buttons, car horns, celluloid film and printing press, paid tributes to the working class at the Alexander Stadium through a raging bull, 10 meters high and built over five months, pulled in by female chain makers who would work long hours in hot and cramped outhouses to make small chains back in the 19th century.
Then to represent the victory of the working classes, the bull shed its armor to symbolize the famous strikes of 1910 when female chain makers went on strike for better conditions — and after 10 weeks they won, earning a new minimum wage that doubled their earnings. The collapsing bull represents the victory of the working classes over their employers.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai welcomed the participants to Birmingham, the place she took refuge after being shot by the Taliban in Pakistan.
The teams entered the stadium representing their respective continents and with neighboring countries giving them company instead of being paraded in alphabetical order.
The Prince of Wales received the Queen’s baton and read out the message by the Queen.
The opening act marked the beginning of 11 days of sporting action in the city, with 19 events over 15 venues in the West Midlands. Seven of those events will be contested in Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city with a population of 1.15 million.
More than 5000 athletes from 72 countries will compete in 280 events across 19 sports.