Commonwealth Games

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Sports events

Current flag of the Commonwealth Games Federation
Current flag of the Commonwealth Games Federation

The Commonwealth Games is a multinational, multi-sport event. Held every four years, it involves the elite athletes of the Commonwealth of Nations. Attendance at the Commonwealth Games is typically around 5,000 athletes. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is the organisation that is responsible for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games.

The first such event, then known as the British Empire Games, was held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The name changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, to British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and assumed the current name of the Commonwealth Games in 1974.

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

There are currently 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and 71 teams participate in the Games. The four constituent countries of the United KingdomEngland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games, and individual teams are also sent from the British Crown dependencies—Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man—and many of the British overseas territories. The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island also sends its own team, as do the Cook Islands and Niue, two non-sovereign states in free association with New Zealand.

Only six teams have attended every Commonwealth Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Australia has been the highest scoring team for ten games, England for seven and Canada for one.

At the 1930 games, women competed in Swimming and Diving only. In 1934 women competed in some Athletics events also.

Locations of the games, and participating countries


The Empire Games flag was donated in 1930 by the British Empire Games Association of Canada. The year and location of subsequent games were added until the 1950 games. The name of the event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the flag was retired as a result.
The Empire Games flag was donated in 1930 by the British Empire Games Association of Canada. The year and location of subsequent games were added until the 1950 games. The name of the event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the flag was retired as a result.

A sporting competition bringing together the members of the British Empire was first proposed by the 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, Melville Marks (Bobby) Robinson of Canada was asked to organise the first British Empire Games. These were held in Hamilton, Ontario two years later.

Opening ceremony traditions

  • From 1930 through 1950, the parade of nations was led by a single flagbearer carrying the Union Flag, symbolising 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.
  • All other nations march in English alphabetical order, except that the first nation marching in the Parade of Athletes is the host nation of the previous games, and the host nation of the current games marches last. In 2006 countries marched in alphabetical order in geographical regions.
  • 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.


The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympic Games, has also suffered from political boycotts. Nigeria boycotted the 1978 Games in protest of New Zealand's sporting contacts with apartheid-era South Africa, and 32 of 59 nations from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean boycotted the 1986 Commonwealth Games due to the Thatcher government's attitude towards South African sporting contacts. Boycotts were also threatened in 1974, 1982, and 1990 because of South Africa.


British Empire Games

British Empire and Commonwealth Games

British Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games

List of nations/dependencies to compete

Nations/dependencies that have competed


1: Aden became South Arabia which left the Commonwealth in 1968.
2: Became Guyana in 1966.
3: Became Belize in 1973.
4: Became Sri Lanka in 1972.
5: Became Ghana in 1957.
6: Left the Commonwealth when handed over to China in 1997.
7: Ireland was represented as the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland in 1934. The Irish Free State, subsequently known in Britain as Eire (1937 to 1948), left the Commonwealth as the Republic of Ireland on January 1 1949.
8: Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore federated as Malaysia in 1963. Singapore left the federation in 1965.
9: Joined Canada in 1949.
10: Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia federated with Nyasaland from 1953 as Rhodesia and Nyasaland which lasted till 1963.
11: Divided into Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia in 1953.
12: Competed from 1958–1962 as part of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
13: Zanzibar and Tanganyika federated to form Tanzania in 1964.
14: Withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003.

Commonwealth nations/dependencies yet to send teams

Very few Commonwealth dependencies and nations have yet to take part.

  • Flag of Tokelau Tokelau is expected to take part in the 2010 Games in Delhi.
  • Flag of the Pitcairn Islands The Pitcairn Islands' tiny population (50 as of July 2007) would appear to prevent the overseas territory from competing.
  • It is also conceivable that any future members of the Commonwealth such as applicants Flag of Rwanda Rwanda and Flag of Yemen Yemen may participate in future games.

List of sports at the Commonwealth Games

The current regulations state that a minimum of ten and no more than fifteen sports must be included in a Commonwealth Games schedule. There is a list of core sports, which must be included, and a further list of approved sports from which the host nation may choose to include. The host nation may also apply for the inclusion of other team sports to the CGF General Assembly, as the Melbourne organising committee did with basketball for the 2006 Games.

The current core sports consist of athletics, aquatics (swimming, diving and synchronised swimming), lawn bowls, netball (for women) and rugby sevens (for men). These will all remain core sports until at least the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The approved list of sports also includes archery, badminton, billiards and snooker, boxing, canoeing, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, judo, rowing, sailing, shooting, squash, table tennis, tennis, ten-pin bowling, triathlon, weightlifting, and wrestling. Some of these are often included in the programme, while others, like billiards and sailing, have not yet been approved.

In 2002, the CGF introduced the David Dixon Award for the outstanding athlete of the Games.

There is also a requirement to include some events for Elite Athletes with a Disability (EAD). This was introduced in the 2002 Games.

On November 18, 2006, tennis and archery were added to the list of disciplines for the 2010 games in New Delhi, bringing the total number of sports to 17. Billiards and snooker were considered but not accepted.

Sports currently included

The years, in brackets, show when the sports have appeared at the games.

  • Aquatics (1930—)
  • Athletics (men: 1930—, women: 1934—)
  • Badminton (1966—) (see also Medalists)
  • Basketball (2006—)
  • Boxing (1930—)
  • Cycling (1934—)
  • Gymnastics (1978, 1990—)
    • Rhythmic gymnastics (1994–1998, 2006—)
  • Field hockey (1998—) (see also Hockey at the Commonwealth Games)
  • Lawn bowls (1930–1962, 1972—)
  • Netball (1998—)
  • Rugby sevens (1998—) (see also Commonwealth Rugby Sevens Championships)
  • Shooting (1966, 1974—)
  • Squash (1998—)
  • Table tennis (2002—)
  • Triathlon (2002—)
  • Weightlifting (1950—)
  • Events for Athletes with a Disability (2002—)
    • Athletics
    • Swimming
    • Table tennis
    • Powerlifting

Events on hiatus

  • Archery (1982 probably 2010)
  • Cricket (1998)
  • Fencing (1950–1970) (See also Commonwealth Fencing Championships)
  • Freestyle wrestling (1930–1986, 1994, 2002,come back in 2010)
  • Judo (1990, 2002) (See also Commonwealth Judo Championships)
  • Rowing (1930, 1938–1962, 1986) (maybe held in 2014)
  • Ten-pin bowling (1998) (see also Commonwealth Tenpin Bowling Championships)

Events which have not yet been held

  • Karate - see also Commonwealth Karate Championships
  • Tennis
  • Snooker
  • Yachting
  • Taekwondo - see also Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships
  • Water Polo
  • Lifesaving - see also Commonwealth Pool Lifesaving Championships

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