The 21st Commonwealth Games are officially under way after a spectacular opening ceremony on the Gold Coast.
More than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations and territories will be competing for 275 gold medals over the 11 days of competition.
A crowd of 35,000 packed into the Carrara Stadium, normally the home of Australian Rules football side Gold Coast Suns.
This will be the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever put together, with spending estimated to finish at around AUS$2bn. It will be the first-time women have the same number of events as men, and the most para-events incorporated with 38 in total.
England head into the Games looking to defend their crown as the most successful nation in 2014, having claimed 58 golds in Glasgow four years ago.
A heavy downpour of rain greeted the start of proceedings but that failed to dampen spirits. The crowd and athletes were then treated to a ceremony showcasing music and dance drawing on Australia’s history and traditions.
The Games were officially declared open by the Prince of Wales, representing the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth.
However, there were protests outside the stadium by indigenous rights activists who earlier disrupted the Queen’s baton relay as it made its way to the stadium.
Prince Charles, who also opened the 2010 Games in Delhi, said he and the Duchess of Cornwall were delighted to be in attendance and read a message from the Queen.
“The ancient stories of the Aboriginals remind us that even though we are half a world away, we are connected and the Games shows the potential to connect,” she said.
“I continue to be inspired by all those taking part and I send my warm wishes to every individual and team.”
The first gold medal of the Games will be awarded in women’s triathlon on 5 April.
Photo Credit: Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games