New Delhi: Little Master Sachin Tendulkar is set to â€˜playâ€™ a special part in Wednesdayâ€™s opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games, which will mark the beginning of what promises to be a star-studded event.
Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket after a glorious career spanning 24 years, will make his presence felt during the ceremony as the Global Goodwill Ambassador of the UNICEF in a first-of-its-kind initiative to spread awareness about the childrensâ€™ problems facing all over the world. But how Tendulkar will be part of the ceremony is not known as the organizers are tightlipped about the details. The occasion will be graced by Commonwealth Head Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet colleagues, Scotlandâ€™s First Minister Alex Salmond and his colleagues in the government and other dignitaries from Commonwealth nations, Â
â€œThere will be something special from Tendulkar, wait and watch tomorrow,â€ Lord David Puttnam, UNICEF UK Ambassador, told PTI. â€œTendulkar is a Global Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and he is happily involved with the work of the organization (UNICEF),â€ said Puttnam without answering whether Tendulkar will be present in person on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Glasgow is leaving no stone unturned to make the opening ceremony a grand success. The ceremony is expected to draw 40,000 spectators inside the Celtic Park and will feature performances from Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle and Amy McDonald.
The content of the show is secret but head of ceremonies and artistic director David Zolkwer promised it would have a distinct theme. â€œOur goal has always been to have the people of Glasgow and Scotland take centre-stage, for them to speak and sing and dance for themselves. It will be a distinct theme,â€ he said.
India, as previous host, will lead the parade, which will end with the current host, Team Scotland. A total of 215 strong Indians will take part in the Games. Indiaâ€™s Olympic silver medallist pistol shooter, Vijay Kumar will be the flag-bearer for the country during the opening ceremony of 2014 Commonwealth Games which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
â€œVijay Kumar has been named as the flag bearer for Indian contingent at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games,â€ Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent, Raj Singh told PTI. However, London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt has been kept as a reserve.
Meanwhile, Indiaâ€™s biggest medal hope, shuttler Saina Nehwal who pulled out of the Commonwealth Games at the last minute, said she is disappointed at missing out on the Glasgow games but has high hopes on Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa pair and PV Sindhu.
Saina has been pulled out due to lack of fitness and failure to recover sufficiently from blisters on her feet that she suffered during the Australian Open Super Series. Apart from Badminton, India will be expecting a lionâ€™s share of medals from shooters, boxers and wrestlers.
However, India will be hit hard by the scrapping of archery and tennis from the Games and the reduction in the number of medal events in shooting and wrestling.
India finished second behind Australia with a record 101 medal haul in New Delhi in 2010 in a Games marred by corruption scandals and construction delays but what has saved the face was the stunning success in terms of delivery of the event and performance by the athletes.
This year, the Games will feature 18 sports in 11 days of competition, which begins on Thursday. It is expected that more than one billion people is expected to watch the event on TV globally.
More than 4,500 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will parade during the curtain raiser. It is also said that about 2,000 cast members will perform in a ceremony that organizers have promised â€œwill surprise, delight and be uniquely Glaswegian and Scottishâ€.
The closing ceremony will take place at Hampden Stadium, which has been transformed into an athletics venue, on August 3, 2014. Details of the closing ceremony have also been kept a secret with information coming only in bits and pieces.Â