If we had to draw one difference between the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games, it’s that the Commonwealth Games are also a celebration of the common features and attributes shared by states under the British Commonwealth. In fact, the Commonwealth Sporting Movement is an extension of the Games. Through the power of sports, there is continuous engagement with communities in between the years when the games are held, embracing and celebrating diversity while promoting sports for development.
Evolving with the times, the modern Commonwealth vision is building a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous community globally, by inspiring the athletes to drive the impact and ambition of all citizens through sport. The Commonwealth Games have a long history that dates back as far as 1891 when John Astley Cooper—a clergyman of the Anglican Church—announced a sporting competition open to all members of the British Empire. However, it wasn’t until 1911, at the coronation of King George V, that an ‘Inter-Empire Championship’ was held. This event brought together teams from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa wherein individuals competed in athletics, boxing, wrestling, and swimming.
Then, one day much to the surprise of the world, the first ever Commonwealth Games (formerly called ‘The British Empire Games’) were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada. To give you an idea of how grand the first Commonwealth Games were—four hundred athletes from 11 countries competed in 59 events across six sporting disciplines: athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, wrestling, and swimming. Among the competing nations were: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Wales and few more.
Athletes from Australia have been a part of the Commonwealth Games since they first began in 1930. Traveling during that time was not an easy task. To participate in these games, the team took almost a month to travel from Sydney to Hamilton. As international air travel was considered big-ticket, the only other option was to travel by sea, by ship. The efforts were definitely worth it as Australia currently leads the all-time medals winners table, with a total of 2218 medals. They’ve also hosted the Commonwealth Games four times: 1938 (Sydney), 1962 (Perth), 1982 (Brisbane) and 2006 (Melbourne), and the Gold Coast who are currently hosting the Games for the next 2 weeks.
While the athletes get pumped for the upcoming action in Australia at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, you can brush up your general knowledge with some interesting facts about the event and its history. The official slogan for Gold Coast 2018 the Commonwealth Games is “share the dream,” and its mascot is a blue, surfing koala named Borobi, whose name is borrowed from the aboriginal term for ‘koala’.
The Commonwealth Games has been a blessing to Australia, with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games being the fifth time Australia has played hosts. What’s interesting is that this is the first Commonwealth Games ever to be held in a regional Australian city. A cumulative audience of 1.5 billion people from around the world will tune in to watch the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the events will be broadcast over the Optus network.
This year, the Commonwealth Games have taken a huge step forward in fostering an environment of inclusion by ensuring an equal number of men’s and women’s medals are awarded. Finally, it’s estimated that this year’s Games will generate a huge $2 billion economic impact and create up to 30,000 full-time jobs. Certainly, the success and reach of the Commonwealth Games is something Australians around the world can truly be proud of!