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Encyclopedia > British Empire 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 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 Kingdom - England, 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 Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.



The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympic Games, has also suffered the spectre of political 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, thirty-two 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 twenty_seven. Boycott threats also hung over the Games in 1974, 1982, and 1990, because of South Africa.


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 thru 1950, the parade of nations was lead by a single flagbearer carrying the Military is more active in the Opening Ceremony than in the Olympic Games. This is to honor the British Military traditions of the Old Empire.


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 after which the name of the event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the flag retired.
British Commonwealth Games seal
Commonwealth Games Federation seal, adopted in 2001

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

External links

  • Commonwealth Games Official Site (http://www.commonwealthgames.com/)
  • Melbourne 2006 Official Site (http://www.melbourne2006.com.au/)
  • Manchester 2002 Official Site (
  • Flags and Emblems of the Commonwealth Games (http://www.commonwealthgamesflags.com/) Evolution of the emblems of the Games
  • The Empire Strikes Back (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/sportsf/stories/s614556.htm) 2002 Australian radio programme (with transcript) on the history and future of the "friendly games".

  Results from FactBites:
Commonwealth Games - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (977 words)
In 1911, the Festival of the Empire was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V.
1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games - Cardiff, Wales
Flags and Emblems of the Commonwealth Games Evolution of the emblems of the Games
Commonwealth Games (489 words)
Since the first British Empire Games were held at Hamilton, Ontario, in August 1930, and attended by 400 competitors representing 11 countries, Canada has been a leading proponent and participant in this quadrennial multi-sport festival.
At the 1990 Games, gymnasts Lori Strong and Curtis HIBBERT won 4 and 5 gold medals respectively.
At the XI Commonwealth Games (1978) in Edmonton, where 10 000 local volunteers assisted in the organization, Canada obtained an unprecedented 45 gold medals, 31 silver and 33 bronze, for a total of 109 (England was nearest with 27 gold and a total of 87).
  More results at FactBites »



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