Games opener a ‘once in a lifetime experience’
DANCING lifesavers, Ricki-Lee Coulter and Deltra Goodrem singing in the sand and a giant white whale floating across Carrara Stadium will shine on the world stage from the Gold Coast during the opening ceremony for what organisers promise will be "the best Commonwealth Games ever".
The eyes of an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide will be treated to a celebration of Gold Coast beach and indigenous culture in the three-hour spectacular, which Games organisers have hinted could also star Margot Robbie and Chris Hemsworth.
After years of fears about issues including security and transport, and last-minute concerns about bad weather and unsold tickets, organisers say they are confident that the biggest event in Queensland history will be a success.
Games Minister Kate Jones said it had been 3511 days since the State Government launched its bid for the mega-event, and more than six years since the Coast was awarded the hosting rights.
"With one day to go, we are ready," she said. "We will deliver the best Commonwealth Games ever, here on the Gold Coast, in Queensland."
A massive security operation will be in place around Carrara Stadium tonight where VIPs including Prince Charles and Camilla as well as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be among the 35,000-strong crowd.
Tourism bosses are hopeful Prince Charles' will include in his opening ceremony speech Queensland's revived "Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next" slogan, as former US president Barack Obama famously did at Brisbane's G20 summit in 2014.
Lifesavers and indigenous performers will take centre stage during the ceremony, with the centre of the stadium transformed into an inland beach.
Nippers clad in flouro rash vests and carrying matching pink rescue boards will usher the athletes from the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories into the stadium, which will also be decked out with props including an actual Gold Coast lifeguard tower and surf boat.
Towel-twirling dancers wearing boardshorts and bikinis will frolic on the "beach" as Coulter performs from a deck chair in the sand, which will be awash with "waves" as part of a dazzling light show.
A didgeridoo orchestra, ballet dancers from the renowned Bangarra Aboriginal dance troupe and a traditional smoking ceremony will feature as part of a strong indigenous theme.
A giant effigy of famed white whale Migaloo, which passes the Gold Coast each winter, will float into the stadium as the ceremony climaxes.
Games police commander, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, said the 10,000-strong security force - including thousands of police and soldiers - were prepared for a "very, very safe and secure Games".
"I'm pleased to tell you that we're in a very good place," he said.
"There is no specific intelligence that causes us any concern in relation to the conduct of these Games or any particular concerns around violent protest activity.
"The years of planning that we've put into the security operation for these Games is ready. We've tested, we've prepared and with our partner agencies we are ready to make sure that this is a very, very safe and secure Commonwealth Games."
Yesterday, tickets were still available for premium events including the opening ceremony and organisers were monitoring the weather as Cyclone Iris redeveloped off North Queensland.
Games CEO Mark Peters said about 140,000 tickets remained for sale, including for low-demand sports squash and table tennis.
About 20,000 tickets also remained available for basketball preliminaries in rain-sodden North Queensland.
"We won't sell all of them but we will sell 95-plus per cent … and we're absolutely confident will be ahead of our revenue projections," he said. "These will be an extremely good Games."
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said the Games would be a "once in a lifetime experience" and urged people to "go out and buy the remaining tickets". "The magic is going to be presented in each of these events is going to be extraordinary," he said.
Ms Jones said the opening ceremony would be an "absolute spectacular".
"Everyone is pumped," she said.
TransLink deputy director-general Matt Longland said the two opening ceremony dress rehearsals had successfully tested public transport, moving 30,000 spectators.