Birmingham: The Commonwealth Games began with a colorful Opening Ceremony that showcased the unique diversity of the city and family of nations at Alexander Stadium on Thursday evening.

Local musical icons Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi starred in an evening that celebrated Birmingham’s industrial heritage and multicultural tradition, as competitors from all 72 Commonwealth nations and territories took part were cheered on in the arena by a crowd of 30,000.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrived in style, driving to the scene in an Aston Martin as part of a convoy of 72 cars that formed a Union Jack seen from above.

Charles then officially declared the 22nd edition of the Games open, with a spectacular fireworks display ending the ceremony and heralding the start of the world’s first major multi-sport event to take place without Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic broke out. is installed. .

Charles delivered Queens’ message to the Commonwealth Games. In it, she said the Games reminded us of our connection to each other, wherever we are in the world, as members of the Commonwealth family of nations.

The Prince of Wales added: Tonight, in the words of the Games founder, we once again embark on a new adventure here in Birmingham, a pioneering city that has attracted and embraced so many throughout its history. . It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and which now welcomes you all in friendship.

More than 5,000 athletes will compete in 280 events in 19 sports over the next 11 days, with a parasports program built into the Games. These will also be the first major multi-sport games to award more medals to women than men 136 and 134.

Others for the Birmingham Games include Commonwealth debuts for women’s T20 cricket and 3×3 basketball as the Games continue to evolve.

The ceremony also featured an appearance by activist Malala Yousafzai. The 25-year-old, who now lives in Birmingham, campaigns and raises funds for girls’ education programs in her native Pakistan.

Her determination to stand up for her beliefs nearly cost her her life when she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in 2012.

“As we watch incredible athletes from the Commonwealth Games, every child deserves the chance to reach their full potential and pursue their wildest dreams,” Malala said.

The parade started with nations from Oceania, Africa, Caribbean and Americans, followed by eight countries from Asia, namely Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan , Singapore and Sri Lanka. Overall team captain Indika Dissanayake and women’s captain Chamari Athapaththu were joint flag bearers for Sri Lanka. It’s a great opportunity to play against the best teams in the world and compete in the Games, said Chamodi Ranasinghe, a member of Sri Lanka’s T20 women’s cricket team, interviewed live on television. We hope to do something special here, she said when asked how confident they were of facing England in their opener on Saturday.

The biggest cheers were reserved for the host country, England, with a squad of 430.