Commonwealth Games 2022 opening ceremony – live! | Commonwealth Games 2022

Key events

Back to Stella and her Dreamers: Emerging from their houses with pastel suitcases in tow, our heroine and her chums jump into assorted jeeps and motor off around the arena to meet various local and adopted luminaries: a giant puppet Edward Elgar and no end of Charlie Chaplins among others.

National anthem: Mezzo-soprano and Birmingham Conservatoire graduate Samantha Oxborough gives a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen accompanied by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a choir of 700 people from 15 different choirs across the West Midlands. Cue: a fly-by from the Red Arrows.

What’s this? Representing each of the 72 competing nations and territories, a similar number of houses from around the globe materialise above the stadium in special effects form. Following a montage honouring Her Majesty the queen’s long association with the Commmonwealth Games, there’s a nod to Birmingham’s car-manufacturing industry as dozens of automobiles of different stripes and shade motor into the arena. The last of them, a natty soft-top convertivle, is driven by Prince Charles, with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall riding shotgun.

You can’t park there, mate.
You can’t park there, mate. Photograph: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

The ceremony is under way …

The narrative of tonight’s Opening Ceremony will explore the rich and diverse history, culture and identity of Birmingham and the West Midlands, it says here.

“In our two-and-a-half hour Opening Ceremony, we’ll hear and see the story of Stella and The Dreamers, a group of young athletes from around the Commonwealth who explore Birmingham’s history and represent a better, brighter future for us all,” reads the official literature.

“Stella meets some of the city’s pioneers, discovers its quirky characters from times gone by, and witnesses the city’s struggles and successes.

“Through this experience, Stella learns she too can overcome her own fears of the new, the unknown and the unexpected. Let’s not forget our guardians of history, the Bards of Birmingham, including Samuel Johnson and Edward Elgar, who we see introduce Stella and The Dreamers to the city’s past and present.”

Tom Daley: Olympic diving champion Tom Daley will be involved in tonight’s ceremony, where he is expected to make a stand for LGBT+ rights in the Commonwealth.

Homosexuality remains illegal in more than half of the 54 countries competing at these Games.

Commonwealth Games 2022
Demonstrators attend a protest outside the Alexander Stadium call for a ban on anti-LGBT+ laws in all Commonwealth Countries. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

YOur competing countries and territories …

Deep breath: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, England, Eswatini, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, India, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Wales, Zambia.

Games opener will be on par with London 2012

The opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham “has a broadcast ambition that has never been conceived before” and will be comparable with the London 2012 Olympics ceremony, according to the show’s artistic director. The Guardian’s Midlands correspondent Jessica Murray reports.

Commonwealth Games 2022
The statue outside Birmingham’s famous Bullring shopping centre dresses the part for the day that’s in it. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

8pm (BST): Tonight’s opening ceremony is due to kick off in a little under 30 minutes and if the official guide, from which this report will be quoting liberally and shamelessly, is anything to go by, it should be a belter.

The BBC have Clare Balding in the hotseat to chair proceedings and local treasures Lenny Henry, Denise Lewis and Ellie Simmonds have been joining her in bigging up a locale in which they all seem immensely proud.

Tonight’s venue: First opened in 1976, Alexander Stadium became the home of UK Athletics in 2011 following a refurbishment which saw the creation of the 5,000-seater East Stand on the back straight.

Since holding its first Diamond League Meeting that year, the stadium went on to stage the British Grand Prix up until its closure for redevelopment in 2019. With the new West Stand in place, the stadium will be able to hold 18,000 spectators in its permanent configuration, while additional temporary stands will allow 30,000 people to watch the athletics, para athletics and opening and closing ceremonies during the Games.

Post-Games, as well as continuing to stage major athletics events, the stadium will become a focal point for leisure and community activity within the regenerated Perry Barr district of Birmingham, which is receiving a £700million investment.

It’s my kind of town!!!

The late Telly Savalas looks at Birmingham, albeit back in 1981 and possibly from the sanctuary of a soundproofed booth somewhere in Los Angeles …

Birmingham – it’s Kojak’s kind of town.

Commonwealth Games “far from irrelevant”: The organisers of the Games have defended its relevance on the eve of the competition, arguing that it continues to thrive. Tumaini Carayol reports …

Reasons to be cheerful …

England’s second city has a dodgy reputation that it doesn’t deserve. As the Commonwealth Games come to town, we round up the best it has to offer. Words: Jon Bounds.

While tonight is a largely celebratory affair …

… it should not be forgotten there are many who believe the Comonwealth Games are a legacy of British exploitation and expansionism.

“What initially stood as an event for Britain and its colonies is now a helpful tool for Britain to divert attention from its ills of the past, presenting itself as a more compassionate nation compared with other former imperial powers, the country that dismantled its empire to become friends with former subjects,” writes Tumaini Carayol. Read on …

Let the Games begin …

Over the next 12 days, approximately 6,500 athletes from 72 different countries and territories ranging in size from Australia to the teeny-tiny south Pacific island of Niue will contest the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, keeping up the tradition of a sporting jamboree that began in 1930 and was known at the time as the British Empire Games.

Over 1.2m tickets have been sold for these Games, which will be staged in 15 different venues across the West Midlands (with the track cycling taking place at London’s Lee Valley velodrome), but before the first lawn bowls are rolled in anger tomorrow morning, we can look forward to tonight’s opening ceremony.

Masterminded by local lad and artistic director Iqbal Khan, and taking place at the Alexander Stadium, which has undergone a £72m refurb in the build-up to these games, tonight’s opening ceremony promises to be a “spectacular show which will share the innovative and surprising history of Birmingham, the West Midlands and its communities” with millions tuning in from around the world.

That’s all well and good but to be honest, this reporter of a certain age was sold when he heard Birmingham rock legend, Black Sabbath founder and guitarist Tony Iommi is involved.

Commonwealth Games 2022
An enthusiastic local gives a high five to a volunteer as people arrive for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

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