Commonwealth Games 2022: Birmingham puts on captivating opening ceremony

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Hosts: Birmingham Dates: 28 July to 8 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV with extra streams on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; live text and clips online.

Birmingham opened its Commonwealth Games in spectacular style with a captivating, hopeful ceremony at Alexander Stadium.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai emphasised the importance of education in a surprise appearance while diver Tom Daley made a show of support for LGBTQ+ rights as the baton relay concluded.

But the biggest shock perhaps came when a 10m tall animatronic bull came steaming into the stadium as part of a ceremony that celebrated the multiculturalism of both Birmingham and the Commonwealth.

As the parade of athletes concluded, each of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were warmly received before host nation England arrived in a cloud of confetti to send the volume skyrocketing with a crowd rendition of We Will Rock You.

The Games are officially open, with events beginning on Friday and more than 5,000 athletes representing 72 nations and territories across 19 sports and 280 medal events until 8 August.

A call for social change

In its opening ceremony partly masterminded by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, Birmingham lay down an early marker for what it wants to offer the sporting world over the next 12 days.

Malala and Daley were not the only ones to call for social change during the event and a mile out from Alexander Stadium, signs hanging by the road read “sport is just the beginning”.

There will likely be more to come given athletes have been told that, unlike at the Olympics, they can use their platform to protest against social injustice at these Games.

The ceremony alluded to the darker side of the Commonwealth’s past, with chains representing those used in the slave trade pulling the giant bull into the stadium.

But it also called for togetherness for a group of nations whose future is becoming increasingly uncertain, with competing nation Barbados already having replaced the Queen as its head of state and Jamaica’s prime minister saying it will be “moving on”.

Daley has previously spoken out against Commonwealth countries that criminalise same sex relationships and the diver has continued that work in a new BBC documentary.

He brought the cause into the stadium too, with the Olympic champion entering the stadium flanked by activists holding LGBT+ flags as he played his part in the Queen’s baton relay shortly before the Games were officially declared open.

More to follow.

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