|There was plenty of horsing around |
when it came to lighting the flame
Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani opened the 15th and largest ever Games with thousands of athletes from 45 countries to compete in 39 sports.
"The United Nations has emphasised the importance of sport in achieving peace..," his son, Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, told the crowd, saying this was an important aim of the Games.
Jacques Rogge, the international olympic committee president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, were among those attending.
As they looked on, Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan sang of harmony and unity, before 1,900 Qatari school children ran into the stadium carrying illuminated doves to form the words peace in Arabic and English.
The field was again transformed, this time into a giant "Arabian majlis" or reception room with enormous cushions and Arabian coffee pots, to welcome the athletes as Cantopop king Jacky Cheung sang Together Now.
Huge cheers greeted into the arena the Iraqi team who are entering these Games for the first time in 20 years despite uncertainty in their war-ravaged country.
|Iraq are competing |
at their first games in 20 years
The Palestinian territories and Lebanon were also warmly received along with athletes from Afghanistan, suffering their worst 12 months of bloodshed since the fall of the Taliban.
However, the biggest reception was reserved for hosts Qatar who marched in to a standing ovation.