Commonwealth Games – Introduction

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In his foreword to The Commonwealth Games by Brian Oliver, Brendan Foster, who won Commonwealth gold and Olympic bronze for Britain over 10,000 metres, recalls that his favourite memory was winning 1500m bronze at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. The race was won by his idol, Kenya’s Olympic champion Kip Keino, and Foster said:

“Nothing has ever meant more to me. Ever since then I have loved the Commonwealth Games.”

Commonwealth Games

Tens of thousands of athletes have competed in the Commonwealth Games – known as the Friendly Games – since the first edition in Hamilton in 1930.

The Games are a quadrennial multi-sport gathering that currently involves 72 nations and territories, representing a third of the world’s population. Of that total, there are currently 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Their stated shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and promoted at the Games.

English is the official language of the Commonwealth. The other language used at each Commonwealth Games is the language of the host country. There can be more than one language if a country has more than one official language apart from English.

Nineteen cities in nine countries have hosted the event. Australia has staged the Commonwealth Games five times – in 1938, 1962, 1982, 2006 and 2018 – which is more times than any other nation.

Two cities have hosted the Commonwealth Games more than once. Auckland in New Zealand did so in 1950 and 1990 and Scottish capital Edinburgh was the venue in 1970 and 1986.

The most recent Commonwealth Games were held in Gold Coast in Australia in 2018, and the next are due to be staged in English city Birmingham in 2022.

Since 2000, the Commonwealth Games have been complemented by the Commonwealth Youth Games, involving athletes aged 14 to 18. There have been six editions so far in non-Games years, most recently in 2017 in Nassau in The Bahamas.

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