Commonwealth Games History

Last Modified Jun 10, 2022 18:11 IST

Between July 28 and August 8, 2022, the 22nd Commonwealth Games will be hosted in Birmingham, England. But, before we get into the details of what lies ahead, let's take a look at how and when the Commonwealth Games came to be.

It was back in 1891 when John Astley Cooper via an article in The Times, proposed a sporting competition which brought together the members of the then British Empire in order to increase goodwill and understanding among them. Consequently, Festival of The Empire, an Inter-Empire Championships was held in Crystal Palace in London. Teams from Australasia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in multiple sports including athletics, boxing, wrestling and swimming.

Officially, it was in 1930 when the very first edition of the Commonwealth Games were held in Hamilton, in the province of Ontario in Canada. The games were held between 16th and 23rd August. As many as 11 countries participated in the Games; Australia, Bermuda, British Guyana, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Scotland , South Africa and Wales. There were a total of 400 participants who competed across six different sports; athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, swimming and diving, and wrestling. The total expenditure for the event was $97,973. Astonishingly, women were allowed to participate only in aquatic events. The opening and the closing ceremonies were held at the Civic Stadium. It was the Canadian triple jumper Gordon Smallacombe, who won the first ever gold medal in the history of the Games.

Ever since the first edition in 1930, the Commonwealth Games have been held once every four years with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when the Games were called off on account of World War 2. From 1930-1950, the Commonwealth Games were known as The British Empire Games, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954-1966 and the British Commonwealth Games form 1970-1974.

So far, nine nations have hosted the Commonwealth Games. Australia has hosted the Games four times and 2018 edition will be it’s fifth. Canada has hosted the Games four times. Auckland (1950, 1990) and Edinburgh (1970, 1986) are the only cities to have hosted the Games more than once. There are only six such nations who have participated in all editions of the Games; Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Australia has ended up with the best tally in 12 editions, England in seven and Canada in one.