India dazzles the world as Commonwealth Games kick off
Fireworks light up the Jawaharlal Nehry Stadium at the CWG opening ceremony on Sunday evening.Putting behind months of controversies, New Delhi put together a spectacular opening ceremony for the 19th Commonwealth Games, which received the approval of all watching.The show of colour, light, music and dance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium left the 65,000-plus present there screaming in delight as the 12-day sporting extravaganza kicked off with participating teams from 71 members of the Commonwealth.Prince Charles, filling in for Queen Elizabeth II, declared the Games open after which President Pratibha Patil, making a short speech, said, “Let the Games begin!”AR Rahman capped the evening with his CWG anthem, Jeeyo Utho Badho, followed by Jai Ho, which the crowd gladly sung along.Among those attending the grand opening were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, and Patil’s husband Devi Singh Shekhawat.Manmohan said: “Welcome to India, welcome to these Games. It is a proud moment for the country. We invite all our guests to enjoy our hospitality.”CWG chief Michael Fennell, who was critical of the Games preparations, acknowledged the big, through belated, turnaround. “Congratulations to the Organising Committee. Let us join hands in celebrating the glorious opening ceremony,” he said.Abhinav Bindra leads the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.The Delhi Games organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi was initially welcomed by the large crowd here, but later booed by it. advertisement”India is ready to host the games,” Kalmadi said, reading out from a prepared speech, sounding confident and not a man whose career in sports administration nearly came to an end because of the problems leading up to this day.Kalmadi also mentioned AB Vajpayee in his speech as he brought the Games to India. At the parade of the participating contingents, the Pakistan team received loud cheers. But the roof was brought down the moment ace marksman and Olympic hero Abhinav Bindra led the Indian contingent on to the park.Patil, Manmohan and Sonia all stood up to applaud the Indian team, which aims to finish with a best ever CWG rank of No. 2.The day’s festivities were marred a little by official broadcaster Doordarshan’s deferred live coverage of the event.Rahman’s act was broadcast only after 10.30 pm, nearly an hour after the opening ceremony had already concluded.