Every four years, members of the Commonwealth of Nations get together for a huge sporting event.
This is the 19th time they have been held and 6800 athletes and officials from 71teams are attending to compete in 17 sports.
It’s great to see so many smaller less wealthy nations competing. The qualification criteria are not as strict as for the Olympic Games so it gives many athletes the chance to experience the ‘big time’ although their performances may not be world class. In fact it is very rare for a world record to be achieved in any of the events. As well as many Olympic sports, the Games also include some sports that are of British origin and are usually played only in Commonwealth countries. These include lawn bowls, rugby and netball.
The Commonwealth of Nations has its roots in the British Empire which eventually became the British Commonwealth before its final transition. It is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states. All but two of these countries were formerly part of the British Empire.
Sixteen members of the Commonwealth recognise the Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state, including Australia. The majority of members, thirty-three, are republics and a further five have monarchs of their own.
It is interesting to note that the four Home Nations of the UK ie. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games. Individual teams are also sent from the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. This is in contrast to the Olympics where all these combine to represent ‘Great Britain’. The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island also sends its own team, as do the Cook Islands and Niue, both two states in free association with New Zealand.
Australia usually does pretty well in this competition and has for many years won the highest number of medals.