• Short Summary

    The Tenth Commonwealth Games were opened at Christchurch in New Zealand by the Duke of Edinburgh on Thursday (January 24).

  • Description

    The Tenth Commonwealth Games were opened at Christchurch in New Zealand by the Duke of Edinburgh on Thursday (January 24).

    He declared the Games open after first reading a message of welcome from Queen Elizabeth II carried from her home at Sandringham overland across England and New Zealand by relays of runners.

    A capacity crowd of about 34,000 spectators, mostly New Zealanders, watched the opening under clear skies and a strong wind.

    Almost one thousand, seven hundred athletes from thirty eight Commonwealth countries will compete in ten sports before the Games close on February the second.

    Queen Elizabeth is expected to fly to Christchurch to attend the closing stages of the Games. Afterwards, she and the Royal Family will make a five-day tour of New Zealand.

    SYNOPSIS: The opening ceremony, under an almost cloudless sky, began with the traditional Maori challenge. A small dart, thrown down by a Maori warrior, was picked up by Prince Philip signalling his peaceful intentions.

    A choir of young Maori women then sang ancient songs of welcome.

    One of the largest teams to compete are the Canadians who will also face the toughest job of adapting from the bitter Canadian winter to the southern hemisphere summer.

    Among the teams competing were the Ghanaians dressed in their traditional African robes.

    The smallest team at the Games -- Grenada's, represented by attractive young high-jumper, Barnadine Lewis.

    The powerful Kenyan team for which high hopes are held at the Games were led by the brilliant steeplechaser, Ben Jipcho. He's also tipped to win the 1,500 metres event.

    With the new Commonweal countries easily outnumbering the old Commonwealth members these games will have a strong ethnic flavour. African countries are particularly well represented.

    Then, the colourful marchpast over, came the arrival of the Games baton, carried by runner from Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham home acrose England and New Zealand to Christchurch. New Zealand athlete, Sylvia Potts, ran into the stadium holding the baton above her head before handing it to Prince Philip who then declared the Games open.

    Thousands of pigeons were then released into the clear summer sky smybolising the unity of the Commonwealth of Nations.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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