A heavy downpour, a giant floating whale and Aboriginal protests marked the start of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday as flag-bearer PV Sindhu led the Indian contingent out in the parade of nations.

Australia flagged off 11 days of competition in the resort city of Gold Coast with Britain’s Prince of Wales declaring the Games open at an upbeat ceremony featuring dancing lifeguards, giant flip-flops and Australia’s team marching in to Men At Work’s “Down Under”.

The Games at beachside Gold Coast give Australia a timely opportunity to repair their sporting reputation after a cheating scandal in cricket left the country reeling. The competition across 23 different sports should soothe the trauma of the cricket row, after Cameron Bancroft was caught doctoring the ball with sandpaper.

“Sand and sport have not been a happy combination for this country of late as we endure our national shame over the ugly fusion of cricket and sandpaper,” The Australian newspaper said in an editorial.

The Games’ 4,000-plus athletes will also compete in events including rugby sevens, shooting, gymnastics, badminton, netball, boxing and beach volleyball. Organisers insist the Games, which started life as the British Empire Games in 1930, are still relevant in the modern world, pointing to the move to an equal number of men’s and women’s medal events.

For Australia, displacing eternal rivals England – the 2014 table-toppers – at the head of the medals tally would be the perfect tonic after their cricketing calamity.

For India, Commonwealth Games has been a happy hunting ground. Nothing less than a top-four finish would qualify as a successful outing. The 2010 Games hosts finished fifth in the last edition at Glasgow and the onus would again be only on three sports to get them closer to the top three.

A look at some sights from the colourful opening ceremony.

Celebrating the beach culture of Gold Coast / PTI
No sarees this time around, as a dapper-looking PV Sindhu led India out in her blazers / PTI
What a sight! / PTI
(Top row C to R) Britain's Prince Charles, his wife Camilla ,Duchess of Cornwall, and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attend the opening ceremony
A downpour ahead of the Opening Ceremony / AFP