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Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport event held every four years involving the elite athletes of The Commonwealth. The first such event, then known as the British Empire Games, was held in 1930. The name changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, to British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and assumed the current name in 1978.

As well as many Olympic sports, the Games also include some sports that are played mainly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls and netball.

Unlike other regional games of this type (i.e., Pan-American Games, Asian Games, All-Africa Games ) which usually attract second-tier athletes, the Commonwealth Games attracts the top athletes of member nations of the Commonwealth, thus making this competition world-rate in the true sense of the word (second only to the Olympic Games). Attendance is typically around 5,000 athletes, which puts these games in third place behind the Olympics and the World Police & Fire Games.

Despite this, the Commonwealth games have still not been free from criticism. Medal counts in the Commonwealth Games tend to be heavily slanted towards the largest, industralized nations such as Canada and Australia. It is thus been claimed that the Commonwealth Games are quite one-sided and serve as little more than an easy ego-stroking victory for these nations. Much like the Commonwealth itself, the games also face increasing questions of justifying their contemporary relevance in changing world.

The constituent parts of the United KingdomEngland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games, and individual teams are also sent from crown dependencies such as the Isle of Man and Jersey.

Only six nations have attended every Commonwealth Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.


Boycotts and Criticism

The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympic Games, has also suffered the spectre of political boycotts. Nigeria boycotted the 1978 Commonwealth Games because of New Zealand's sporting contacts with South Africa, and in the biggest political threat to the future of the games, 32 nations from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean boycotted the 1986 Commonwealth Games because of England's attitude to South African sporting contacts, thus reducing the number of competing nations to 27. Boycott threats also hung over the Games in 1974, 1982, and 1990, because of South Africa.

On a smaller scale, a lot of people dislike the idea of the Games because of their imperialistic, and hence essentially, some say, racist background. However, most people eventually get caught up in the enthusiasm of the event, and athletes themselves are overall pleased to have another big event on their calendars, and hence another chance to win medals.


A sporting competition bringing together the members of the British Empire was first proposed by Reverend Astley Cooper in 1891 when he wrote an article in The Times suggesting a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire".

In 1911, the Festival of the Empire was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V. As part of the festival an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics.

In 1928, Bobby Robinson of Canada was asked to organize the first British Empire Games. These were held in Hamilton two years later.

Opening Ceremony Traditions

  • From 1930 through 1950, the parade of nations was lead by a single flagbearer carrying the Union Jack, symbolizing Britain's leading role in the British Empire.
  • Since 1958, there has been a relay of athletes carrying a baton from Buckingham Palace to the Opening Ceremony. This baton has within it the Queen's Message of Greeting to the athletes. The baton's final bearer is usually a famous sporting personage of the host nation.
  • The first nation marching in the Parade of Athletes is the host nation of the previous games. The host nation of the current games marches last. All other nations march in alphabetical order.
  • Three national flags fly from the stadium on the poles that are used for medal ceremonies: Previous Host nation, Current Host nation, Next Host nation.
  • The Military is more active in the Opening Ceremony than in the Olympic Games. This is to honour the British Military traditions of the Old Empire.


British Empire Games

British Empire and Commonwealth Games

British Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games

List of Sports at the Commonwealth Games

Years in brackets show when the sports appeared at the games.

2006 Commonwealth Games

Discontinued events

See also

External links

Last updated: 08-31-2005 20:36:16