The History of the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games bears some similarities with the Olympics. For one thing, they are both held once every four years. Another similarity is the sports that are played during the event, and finally, that various countries participate in this prestigious sporting event.

The Games Through the Years

This year, the games will be held in Gold Coast Australia for the first time, and athletes from the different nations in the Commonwealth are gearing up for a game of a lifetime. It holds a lot of significance, but just what do we know about these games and the reason as to why we celebrate them?


First, let’s go back and see what brought about the games. It all started in 1891 when John Astley Cooper proposed a sporting competition that can bring together the members of the British Empire. He brought about his proposition when he wrote an article for The Times.

He suggested that a Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years can help to increase goodwill and understanding of the British Empire.

In 1911, during George V’s coronation, an Inter-Empire Championships was held as part of the celebrations in the Crystal Palace. Members of the British Empire participated in the games including Australasia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK.

King George V's Coronation, July 1911

King George V’s Coronation, July 1911

These nations went head to head in a variety of sports, including athletics, boxing, wrestling and swimming.

It is said that this event was the predecessor of what we have come to know today as the Commonwealth Games.

British Empire Games [1930-1950]

The British Empire Games was held from 1930 to 1950. The very first one was held in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, and was planned and organised within two years. The job fell on Melville Marks Robinsons in 1928, and its opening and closing ceremonies were held at Civic Stadium.

Ivor Wynne Stadium

Ivor Wynne Stadium (formerly the Civic Stadium) in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada was the site of the first British Empire Games. The stadium has since been demolished in 2012

11 nations joined the games at the time and included Australia, Bermuda, British Guyana, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and Wales.

The nations sent a total of 400 athletes to participate in the games, which featured favourite sports like athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, and diving. The British Empire Games also allowed women to participate, but are limited to aquatic sports.

Since then, the games have been held every four years. The 1950 British Empire Games was the last of its kind and was held in Auckland, New Zealand.

British Empire and Commonwealth Games [1954-1966]

After the name change was made official in 1952, the first British Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1954.

What made these games memorable were the milestones it created. These were the first games in which Northern Rhodesia and Pakistan made their debuts and landed eight and six medals respectively.

But what put the games into memory was the legendary race ran by Roger Bannister of England and John Landy of Australia. These two men were the first to run a mile under four minutes in a duel-like situation. Bannister ended up beating Landy for the gold medal. The event is remembered as the Miracle Mile.

Bannister and Landy

statue depicting Bannister passing Landy in the legendary race dubbed The Miracle Mile found in Vancouver, Canada

The final games in 1966 was another milestone, as Kingston, Jamaica played host. It was the first time the games were held in the country.

British Commonwealth Games [1970-1974]

The British Commonwealth Games was short-lived as it was only held twice. But the first games in 1970 saw a series of firsts for the sporting event.

It was the first time the metric system was used in the events. It was also the first time Scotland played host, and the first time Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made her appearance felt as the Head of the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II attended the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, asserting her role as the Head of the Commonwealth

Meanwhile, the 1974 games hosted by New Zealand was called “The Friendly Games”, following the massacre in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

It is best known as the first sporting event that put the safety of coaches and athletes first before anything else. It was the first time Western Samoa, Lesotho and Swaziland won medals for their country.

Commonwealth Games [1978-Present]

1978 saw another rename for the games. It is now called what we all know it to be: The Commonwealth Games. The first games to hold this name was hosted by Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

It featured 1,500 athletes from 46 countries around the world. However, it wasn’t all good news. Nigeria and Uganda boycotted these games for political reasons. Nigeria was in protest of New Zealand’s sporting contact with South Africa, and Uganda in protest of Canada’s alleged hostility towards the Idi Amin government.

This year, the games will be held in Gold Coast, Australia. The government is doing everything they can to ensure that players, coaches, and spectators will enjoy the show this coming April.

gold coast games

the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be hosted in Gold Coast, Australia for the first time

As the opening ceremony draws closer, we here at Alpha Car Hire will give you more insights on successful players and more, so stay tuned. And if you want to know more about the games and the schedules, click here.

If you want to read more interesting facts about other great sporting events, then you should check out this one, Fun Facts About the Australian Open. And please support us by sharing this content with your friends on social media.

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