“Let the Games begin,” said Pratibha Patil, the then Indian President, indicating the beginning of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
The Opening Ceremony took place at 7.00pm on October 3 and was held at the Jawaharld Nehru Stadium holding around 60,000 spectators.
Watched by an average of 3 million people worldwide, India was under pressure to deliver a memorable and extravagant Opening Ceremony to the people of the Commonwealth.
Throughout the night there was a visual exploration of multiple aspects of Indian culture in a plethora of showcases, including a segment titled “The tree of knowledge”. Overall, 480 dancers were used to bring to life the journey through the four seasons of India. Prince Charles also spoke on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II as this was her first absence from the Games in 44 years. He recited her words, announcing: “When countries can compete together in sport, it serves as an inspiration for nations to work together for peace throughout the world.”
The Queen’s Baton was brought into the Jawaharld Nehru Stadium by boxer Vijender Singh who then handed it over to Mary Kom, the five-time boxing world champion. Samaresh Jung was next to receive the Baton after being named best competitor of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Champion wrestler, Sushil Kumar, was last to hold the Baton before passing it over to Queen Elizabeth’s representative, Prince Charles.
Throughout the course of the Games, 6,081 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competed in 21 sports and 272 events. These numbers therefore made the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games the largest to date. The Games finished with the Closing Ceremony on October 14.
There were multiple concerns raised when it was announced India was to be hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games. One of these issues was the socio-economic fall-out from the billions of dollars involved in creating arenas and temporary areas for athletes.
Miloon Kothari, an expert on socio-economic development, said: “When one in three Indians live below the poverty line and 40 per cent of the hungry live in India, when 46 per cent of India’s children and 55 per cent of women are malnourished, does spending billions of dollars on a 12-day sports event build national pride or is it a matter of national shame?” He announced the Games would prove to be “a negative financial legacy for the country”.
Some of the most memorable triumphs from the Games include English swimmer Rebecca Adlington’s gold medal in the 800 metres freestyle alongside Scotland’s Caitlin McClatchy winning the women’s 400m freestyle swimming final.
The Closing Ceremony lasted two-and-a-half hours. Within the Ceremony, the world was shown a vibrant display of Indian culture ordered in contrasting segments. Skills in eight Indian martial art forms were displayed including thangtu, gatka, naga warriors, dhan patta and talwar raas. This segment was later followed by a piece called “tribute to our motherland” which was executed by 2,010 schoolchildren to A.R Rahman’s composition “Vande Mataram”.
The flag handover ended the Ceremony and began with an announcement from Chief Minister of Delhi, Shelia Dikshit. She said: “In a few moments, the ceremonial flag will be entrusted to your care so that in due time you deliver it to Glasgow.” Robert Winter represented Glasgow in accepting the flag. He announced: “This duty I willingly undertake to fulfil.” Following this, the flag was finally passed to the Lord Smith of Kelvin who called upon the nations of the Commonwealth to visit the Games in Glasgow for 2014.
Date Games held: October 3-14
Number of nations represented: 71
Number of competitors: 6,081
Number of medal events: 272
Gold medal standings: Australia 74; India 39; England 37; Canada 26; Kenya 12