The sporting world was watching and what it saw was a spectacular two hour curtain-raiser to the inaugural European Games in Baku.
It was a kaleidoscope of colour and sound reflecting the history of Azerbaijan as representatives of the 50 competing nations paraded through the stadium.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, sitting next to the International Olympic President Thomas Bach and 35 other heads of state saluted his country’s team.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev was along side. He would have heard the boos which rang out as the Armenian team entered the stadium. The two countries are at odds over the Nagorno-Karabkh region.
The country has spent in excess of a billion euros to stage its biggest sports extravaganza to date. But the 16 day Games have failed to attract the biggest track and field athletes and swimmers.
One star name was there but at the piano. Lady Gaga who sang John Lennon’s Imagine during the opening. ceremony.
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