Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘G’day!’ The Commonwealth Games open



‘G’day!’ The Commonwealth Games open

Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on Wednesday. AFP
Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on Wednesday. AFP

‘G’day!’ The Commonwealth Games open

A heavy downpour, a giant floating whale and Aboriginal protests marked the start of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday as Australia flagged off 11 days of competition in the resort city of Gold Coast.

Britain’s Prince of Wales declared the Games open at an upbeat ceremony featuring dancing lifeguards, giant flip-flops and Australia’s team marching in to Men At Work’s Down Under.

“G’day!” said Peter Beattie, chairman of the organising committee, adding: “We are the friendliest people on this planet . . . we invite you all now to share the dream.”

The Prince of Wales told the near-capacity crowd in the 35,000-seat stadium: “Over the years these ‘Friendly Games’ have shown the potential of the Commonwealth to connect people of different backgrounds and nationalities,” .

A giant replica of Migaloo, the white humpback whale which has become a symbol of environmentalism in Australia, then floated gently into the stadium.

The Games at beachside Gold Coast give Australia a timely opportunity to repair their sporting reputation after a cheating scandal in cricket left the country reeling.

The competition across 23 sports should soothe the trauma of the cricket row, after a player was caught doctoring the ball with sandpaper.

“Sand and sport have not been a happy combination for this country of late as we endure our national shame over the ugly fusion of cricket and sandpaper,” the Australian newspaper said.

“Starting tonight on the Gold Coast we can flick the switch to optimism and celebration.”

‘Stolenwealth Games’

Enthusiasm is not universal, however, and Aboriginal protesters held up the final stages of the Games’ baton relay with a sit-in along its route in Gold Coast. Outside the opening ceremony, there were minor scuffles as about 100 protesters chanting “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land” faced off with police on horseback.

Indigenous activists are planning more demonstrations and have dubbed the event the “Stolenwealth Games”, a reference to Britain’s colonisation of their ancestral lands.

Australia will hope for a fast start when competition gets underway, with Olympic champions Mack Horton and Kyle Chalmers expected to star in the outdoor Southport pool.

Cate Campbell looks back in form after her 2016 Olympics flop, and South Africa’s Chad le Clos could become the most successful athlete in Games history when he takes on a Michael Phelps-style seven swimming events.

English breaststroker Adam Peaty, who has his eye on an unprecedented sub-57 seconds in the 100m, is another who will try to crash the Australian pool party.

Australia will also go head-to-head with England in track cycling, where they will field a revamped line-up under the tutelage of British coach Simon Jones.

In athletics, Gold Coast’s world champion hurdler Sally Pearson is battling an achilles problem, but Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake should provide fireworks in the absence of the retired Usain Bolt.

Elaine Thompson also looks set to blaze to sprint gold for Jamaica, while South Africa flag-carrier Caster Semenya is said to be targeting the longstanding 800m record.

The Games’ 4,000-plus athletes will also compete in events including rugby sevens, shooting, gymnastics, badminton, netball, boxing and beach volleyball.

Organisers insist the Games, which started life as the British Empire Games in 1930, are still relevant in the modern world, pointing to the move to an equal number of men’s and women’s medal events.

For Australia, displacing eternal rivals England – the 2014 table-toppers – at the head of the medals tally would be the perfect tonic after their cricketing calamity

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth