• Commonwealth Games

The Friendly Games gets underway

ESPN staff
July 23, 2014
John Barrymore trills surrounded by a Smörgåsbord of Scottish imagery gets the show underway © Getty Images

The 2014 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony took place at Celtic Park in Glasgow as thousands of athletes from 71 nations and territories marched before a 40,000-strong crowd and a global TV audience reportedly well in excess one billion people.

As so often on these occasions, the entertainment part of the evening was a mixture of the good, bad and downright bizarre, but overall a sense of real fun and enjoyment came across. It was typically Scottish - performers in kilts, the Loch Ness Monster and no end of bagpipes - and often humorous.

The traditional parade of athletes around the stadium followed a live show featuring about 2,000 cast members. The Queen then declared the Games open by reading her own message from inside the Commonwealth baton which had been on a 288-day, 120,000-mile journey.

The Queen opens the games © Getty Images

Sir Chris Hoy carried it on its last few yards, handing to Prince Imran of Malaysia, who struggled to open the container and remove the message to hand to the Queen.

Her Majesty spoke of the "shared ideals and ambitions" of the Commonwealth and highlighted the "bonds that unite". She said the baton relay "represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth and serves as a reminder of our shared ideals and ambitions as a diverse, resourceful and cohesive family.

"And now, that baton has arrived here in Glasgow, a city renowned for its dynamic cultural and sporting achievements and for the warmth of its people, for this opening ceremony of the Friendly Games."

John Barrymore had given the evening a jaunty start with a six-minute musical journey through Scottish life, singing: "We've bagpipes and we've castles, there's monsters in our lochs." That set the tone. A variety of stars, ordinary people and performances followed before the athletes, India leading the way, started appearing.

Malaysia's flag was carried at half mast, and all countries were warmly welcomed, but inevitably the biggest reception was accorded to the Scottish squad.

The games will feature 17 sports across 11 days of competition, beginning on Thursday. The closing ceremony will take place at Hampden Park, which has been transformed into an athletics venue, on August 3.

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