March 26, 2006 (Melbourne, Australia) — The host of the XVIII Commonwealth Games said a heartfelt farewell to athletes, visitors and volunteers last night in a surprising, creative and imaginative Closing Ceremony.
Produced by Jack Morton Worldwide and led by an all-star cast of Australian musicians, the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony featured Ben Lee, Grinspoon, Sarah Blasko, Paul Kelly, BodyRockers and Casey Donovan as well as Australian music legend John Farnham.
The ceremony marked the end of 12 days of emotion-fuelled competition and built to an explosive finale when Melbourne erupted into a city-wide pyrotechnics display — the largest ever staged in Victoria.
Prime Minister John Howard said the Commonwealth Games have demonstrated to the world how very good this country is at running major sporting events.
“Congratulations to Melbourne. It has done very well, the city has been sparkling and the city is entitled to enjoy all of the international approval and notoriety that it’s had over the past few weeks.”
The Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks, said the ceremony was a perfect way for athletes, officials, volunteers and spectators to say farewell to Melbourne and Victoria.
“The people of Melbourne and Victoria have embraced the competitors and officials from the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth,” Mr. Bracks said. “We’ve had such a good time we don’t want to see them go!
“Melbourne will live on in the hearts and minds of all our visitors and we extend an open invitation to visit us once again. We wish Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games organisers every success.”
Melbourne 2006 Chairman Ron Walker said the closing ceremony was a celebration of “”¦the greatest coalition of Commonwealth nations ever seen”. “We have all been united by the moment,” Mr. Walker said. “Melbourne — we did it!”
Mr. Walker’s closing ceremony speech was followed by the official Commonwealth Games Federation flag handover by Lord Mayor of Melbourne John So and the Premier of Victoria Steve Bracks to the next Games host city, Delhi.
“The Games have been an outstanding success — Melbourne’s biggest party ever. The city is alive with activity,” the Lord Mayor John So said.
“The people of Melbourne are to be congratulated for their gold medal efforts in embracing the Games — whether barracking for an athlete or a team, enjoying entertainment in our parks or enlivening our streets with their enthusiasm for our city.”
More than 4,500 volunteer performers participated in the closing ceremony. AFL footballers, ballerinas, giant snowflakes and famous Melbourne icons including the “˜Skipping Girl’ sign, Flinders Street Station, Melbourne Cup and Luna Park were also amongst some of the ceremony highlights.
The host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi, staged an 11-minute long showcase featuring a yogi-inspired dance performed by Isha Sharwani, Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, a grand chariot drawn by puppet horses, India’s Miss Universe, Lara Dutta and an array of giant costumed characters representing various Indian cultural traditions.
For the first time in Commonwealth Games history, volunteers were invited to actively participate to receive their vote of thanks face-to-face for their enthusiasm and generosity.
Basketball legend Andrew Gaze delivered a personal thanks to the 4,000-plus athletes of the XVIII Commonwealth Games: “Whether they won a medal, or achieved a personal best, or simply made their countries and their families proud, we thank them for everything — especially the way they’ve touched our hearts,” Gaze said.
Melbourne’s best loved and most famous housewife, Dame Edna Everage, helped conclude events leading a stunning display of look-alike Ednas as they sang, danced and even tram conducted their way through to the final minutes of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games Federation President, Mike Fennell, also named Indian shooting athlete Samaresh Jung as the winner of the inaugural David Dixon Award.
Jung won an incredible seven medals at the Games, five gold, one silver and one bronze. He won two individual gold medals in the 10m Air Pistol and 50m Air Pistol events and an individual bronze in the 25m Centre Fire Pistol event.
Jung, 35, was also part of four pairs competitions, winning another three golds in the 10m Air Pistol Pairs, 25m Air Pistol Pairs and Centre Fire Pistol Pairs, and a silver in the 25m Centre Fire Pistol Pairs event. He also set three new Games records along the way.
The CGF established the David Dixon Award, in memory of the man who served as its Honorary Secretary for 17 years, to honour the outstanding athlete at each Commonwealth Games.