The night has finally come when Queensland’s Gold Coast will play host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will be officially opened tonight at Carrara Stadium in one of the biggest events seen in Australia for a decade.

With an Australian team of 473 athletes, competing in 20 different sporting disciplines, our chances for a record medal tally remain high, although with a total of 6,600 athletes competing for 825 medals, the competition will be strong.

The Queen’s Baton Relay, which commenced on 13 March, 2017, in London, continues to make its way through the Darling Downs, passing through Toowoomba, Warwick, Gatton, and Ipswich where it will eventually be carried into Carrara Stadium where Her Majesty’s Message will be read to officially open the 21st Commonwealth Games.  

Last year, a statement from Buckingham Palace announced that HRH the Prince of Wales would be officially opening the 2018 Commonwealth Games on behalf of HM the Queen.  Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were officially invited to the Games by Queensland’s Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk in March this year, and are currently staying with friends at Gundagai, before leaving for Brisbane this afternoon. Tonight, at the Opening Ceremony, Prince Charles will read the Queen’s message, “calling on athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition” The visit by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be the first official royal visit to the Gold Coast in more than fifty years.

The Opening Ceremony  for the 2018 Commonwealth Games promises to be an event  like no other. Gold Coast 2018 Project and Artistic Director, David Zolkwer, has been pleasantly surprised at how different the experience of designing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has been, compared to previous projects.

“Although I’ve done a good number of shows and ceremonies in the past, it’s always been a sense of I’m visiting, I’m there to do a job”, Zolkwer commented.  “I think this is the first time I felt like I was actually living here, because the Gold Coast demands that you live here”. 

Zolkwer has designed the Opening Ceremony to celebrate and showcase “the unique cultural and geographical landscape that he found so surprising when he first moved to the Gold Coast with his family.”

“You can cross a road and you’re in a new place.  It’s Currumbin town, it’s Burleigh town and it’s Southport town and each place along a relatively small strip is remarkably different.  It’s really interesting,” he said.

Zolkwer has been similarly impressed by the remarkably sunny spirit of the locals who have turned up in their thousands to audition for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

“We have a cast of some thousands and they’ve been coming to auditions with an energy and sunshine that I’ve never encountered before.” 

With an audience estimated at approximately 1.5 billion for tonight’s Opening Ceremony, the Gold Coast will be well and truly on the world stage both tonight and over the following eleven days of competition.  They couldn’t wish for a better Artistic Director than David Zolkwer, who has previously worked on the Opening Ceremonies for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and was also the Creative Director for the Celebration Sites for the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Australian audiences may also be in for a pleasant surprise as the Captain of the Australian Men’s Hockey Team, Mark Knowles, has been chosen to be the flag-bearer for the Australian Commonwealth Games Team at tonight’s Opening Ceremony.

Where many may have considered Australia’s Track star, Sally Pearson, an obvious choice to lead the Australian Team into the Gold Coast’s Carrara Stadium this evening, this honour has instead been given to Mark Knowles, who will be retiring from international hockey at the end of these Commonwealth Games.

“The father of three has dedicated his life to a game that doesn’t come with the fame and fortune of other sporting pursuits” and his parents have both followed his career closely, travelling the globe to watch their son compete.  During his career, Knowles has captained the Australian Men’s Hockey Team over three Olympic Games campaigns, having won 1 gold and 2 bronze medals in addition to 3 Commonwealth Games gold medals and “achieved World Cup and Champions Trophy glory.” 

Australia’s Chef de Mission, Steve Moneghetti, believes Knowles to be a perfect choice to lead Australia’s 473 athletes into Carrara Stadium this evening.  Moneghetti stated that “He is a decent human being, he is modest, he embodies everything that is great about Australia… He is an absolute rock and we think he will be an inspiring leader.”