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Let the Games begin

25 July 2002

The XVII Commonwealth Games have officially begun.

Her Majesty The Queen started the biggest sporting party the United Kingdom has ever seen at the breathtaking Opening Ceremony at the showpiece City of Manchester Stadium.

Opening Ceremony

The City of Manchester Stadium was bathed in a spectacular light show

It was the night Manchester has waited seven long years for - but at last the dream has turned into reality.

The sound of the ceremonial drum, a gift from Kuala Lumpur 1998, being struck signalled the start of events as the cast of thousands streamed onto the field of play as 48 search lights shot their beams high into the sky as the colourful spectacle began in earnest.

Next to arrive in the Stadium were the dignitaries, chauffeured in a cortege of traditional black taxis and introduced individually to the 38,000 spectators.

With the honoured guests in their seats pop sensations S Club performed their number one hit ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ to get the disco-themed night well and truly underway.

The crowd were on their feet dancing by now, greeting each of the 72 nations as they entered the Stadium for the Parade of Athletes.

Spectators in the uncovered north stand were asked to put on plastic ponchos while projectors turned the audience into a living, breathing screen.

Red Arrows

Manchester welcomes the world as the Red Arrows fly past

Manchester was finally showing the world what its inhabitants have known all along – that this is an amazing city and the XVII Commonwealth Games could not have a more deserving home.

As the athletes completed their circuit of the track, Mancunian best-selling operatic artist Russell Watson belted out “Where my heart will take me” as a tribute to the athletes before local swimmer James Hickman read out the Athlete’s Oath on behalf of all the competing athletes.

Now it was time for the Baton to finally arrive after its epic journey around the world, and in one of the most spectacular moments of the performance, every member of the audience shone a flashlight onto the arena as the Baton was carried into the Stadium by a gymnast suspended under a giant balloon to the strains of haunting music.

Once on the ground eight superstars of sport carried it on a final lap of the field. Donovan Bailey, Ellen MacArthur, Moses Kiptanui, Susie O’Neill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis carried the Baton on this very last stage, with Manchester United and England star David Beckham handing the Baton to seriously ill six-year old Kirsty Howard, who has touched the nation with her brave battle against critical illness.

Little Kirsty then handed the Baton to The Queen whose following speech declared the Games officially open.

A 21-gun salute sounded as the athletes left the Stadium to prepare for competition. United Colours of Sound sang the Baton anthem, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and the stage was set for the grand finale.

A hush descended as amazing psychedelic images were projected onto the field and the stunning end of the show began.

Titled ‘The Spirit of Manchester; the story began with a tale of ordinary Mancunians on their way to work before casting off the pressures of everyday life and showing that Manchester truly knows how to party.

The seventies-styled disco frenzy that followed was a spectacular and fitting end to an amazing show and as a huge firework display reverberated across the city, Mancunians could finally tell the world that this was their long awaited moment.

Enjoy our Games. Enjoy Manchester 2002.

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