Liverpool has proposed opening the 2022 Commonwealth Games with a "cultural armada" of 71 boats sailing down the River Mersey ©Liverpool 2022

Liverpool has proposed opening the 2022 Commonwealth Games with a "cultural armada" of 71 boats sailing down the River Mersey.

The English city revealed the plan today as its bids to replace Durban in South Africa as the host of the event.

Each boat would represent a competing Commonwealth country or territory, flying their national flag as its sails into the city.

Organisers claim this would be part of an "unforgettable Opening Ceremony" with the Mersey becoming a focal point for welcoming countries from across the world.

A more traditional stadium Opening Ceremony would still take place at Anfield - the home of Liverpool Football Club.

This would be "a spectacle of light, pyrotechnics and sound, mixing small intimate moments with experiences on an epic scale", Liverpool 2022 claimed.

Seventy-one teams competed at the last edition of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Another proposal suggests giving each delegation a "Cultural Embassy" in Liverpool, a building which can be taken over to showcase national art, culture, music and food. 

Anfield Stadium would host the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images
Anfield Stadium would host the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

Each night, these buildings would be lit up to create a "fortnight long festival of light".

Liverpool's director of culture, Claire McColgan, said: "The cultural armada would be the first thing a global audience would see of Liverpool 2022. 

"And what an image it would be - a river filled with ships, each with the flag of a different nation sailing into one of the world's most iconic waterfronts at sunset.

"The cultural programme is at the heart of our bid - it will tell the story of Liverpool and the Commonwealth, what binds it together and what makes each nation so unique, and will in turn create a programme of extraordinary moments in unexpected places.

"Liverpool is recognised internationally as a cultural leader, so the scale and ambition of our plans won't come as a surprise to anyone.

"This is a city which pushes boundaries with major events and culture, and we don't want to leave anyone with any doubt that by staging the Games in Liverpool, we'll be positioning Britain as a creative, outward looking and progressive nation.

"And we know Liverpool can deliver - staging events became second nature for this city following our European Capital of Culture tenure and now we know just what amazing, unforgettable experiences can be achieved when this city unites for a common goal.

"This is an exciting time for Liverpool and we hope we're given the opportunity to tell the compelling Commonwealth story with the humour, passion and integrity the world has come to expect and love from this city."

Liverpool is battling against Birmingham to secure the English nomination for the Games after Durban lost the rights due to a lack of financial guarantees. 

A decision is due to be made by Commonwealth Games England next month.

England is now in pole position to step in after Canadian city Victoria ended its bid yesterday because the Provincial Government declined to support it.

Cultural embassies for each country could be lit up at night ©Liverpool 2022
Cultural embassies for each country could be lit up at night ©Liverpool 2022

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia had also been tipped to bid but it too is thought to lack backing from politicians. 

"The team behind the plans for the city's 2022 cultural programme are the powerhouses who delivered what is widely regarded as the best-ever European Capital of Culture year in 2008," said Liverpool 2022 chairman Brian Barwick.

"Combine that with what is easily one of the most photogenic waterfronts in the world and it's a winning combination."

The centrepiece of Liverpool's campaign is the riverside regeneration of the city's Bramley-Moore Dock, the proposed site for a new stadium for Everton Football Club.

A temporary athletics track would be laid during the Games while a floating swimming pool is another plan.

The 50 metre pool structure, with seating for 5,000 spectators, would be built on the water near Albert Dock.

Everton's current stadium Goodison Park would be the venue for boxing while archery would be hosted at Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National.