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    Commonwealth Games opens

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    ODN

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    The Commonwealth Games has opened with a spectacular ceremony that heralds 11 days of sporting action.


    After weeks of setbacks, the Indian authorities staged a cultural show of flair, imagination and excitement in Delhi watched by a global audience of millions.


    The Prince of Wales joined India's president Pratibha Patil at the opening ceremony that welcomed many of the 6,000 sportsmen and women from across the Commonwealth taking part.


    The so-called Friendly Games begin in earnest on Monday, and the first day will see double Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington battling for one of the eight gold medals up for grabs on the day.


    Her appearance is an exception as many notable names in world sport have chosen to either overlook the event or have withdrawn through injury but reigning World 10m platform diving champion Tom Daley has made the trip to India.


    The Indian authorities have put in place almost unprecedented levels of security for a sporting event, with around 30,000 police deployed at the 41 Games venues reinforced by thousands of troops.


    An audience of almost 60,000 had to negotiate stringent airport style checks where bottles of water, food and even mosquito sprays - in a city where insect borne dengue fever has broken out - were confiscated before they were allowed to their seats to watch the ceremony.


    The two-and-a-half hour spectacular saw a £5.5 million helium filled airship - said to be world's largest - float above the crowds in the humid night air as iconic images of India's founding father Gandhi, the famous Taj Mahal mausoleum and Buddha were screened on to it as well as other pictures.


    During the show five thousand years of India's cultural history were depicted in seven acts that used music, dance, and light to tell the story in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi.