What are the Commonwealth Games?

Every four years you see the Commonwealth Games pop up in different countries. You may have asked yourself what they are. If you have, we can tell you.

The Commonwealth Games come every four years and are hosted in various countries that are part of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is ‘a free association of sovereign states’ according to Britannica. So what exactly are the Commonwealth Games?

The history of the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games is a sporting event that takes place every four years. The first games were in 1930 and were called the British Empire Games. There have only been two occasions when the games didn’t take place, 1942 and 1946 due to World War II as explained by Team Scotland.

The Games have had multiple names,evolving through the ages. From 1930 to 1950: British Empire Games, from 1954 to 1966: British Empire and Commonwealth Games and from 1970 to 1974: British Commonwealth Games. It wasn’t until 1978 that they were known as simply the Commonwealth Games. They can sometimes also be known as the ‘Friendly Games’.

According to olympics.com the original inspiration for the Commonwealth Games came from the Inter-Empire Championships held in London in 1911, which was an event during the Festival of Empire to celebrate King George V’s coronation.

The first Games

The Commonwealth’s first games were held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930. There were 11 countries participating in the event, including Australia, Bermuda, British Guiana, Canada, England, Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales and of course Canada, the host.

During the very first games, women were only allowed to participate in the swimming events.

Which countries can participate?

As you can probably guess by the name, countries that are part of the Commonwealth can compete at the Games. In total there are 54 countries in the Commonwealth, including Britain. However, there are sometimes more teams, indeed in 2022, there will be 72 teams competing.

This is because there are dependent territories that are allowed to compete as their own country unlike in the Olympics.

Since 1930, there have only been six countries that have competed in every game:

  • Australia (who have also hosted the Games five times)
  • Canada
  • England
  • New Zealand
  • Scotland
  • South Africa
  • Wales

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