As a nation, we have spent quite a large portion of the last 12 months cheering on our best athletes. The delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in early 2022 were a great source of national pride, and you may be pleased to hear that another reason for celebration is just around the corner.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games gets underway with the official opening ceremony on Thursday, 28th July, and is taking place on British soil in Birmingham. This means no early-morning alarms are needed to make sure you stay up to date with the cycling, diving, and gymnastics.
To get you in the mood for the games, here are answers to the five most frequently asked questions.
1. What is the Commonwealth Games?
The Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport event that brings together summer athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. It was first hosted in 1930 and has been held every four years since. However, there was a hiatus in 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War. Canadian journalist Melville Marks Robinson is credited with founding the games which were originally known as the ‘British Empire Games’.
Commentators often refer to the Commonwealth Games as the ‘Friendly Games’ because there’s more focus on countries coming together for a celebration of sport and unity, rather than a desire to win – but try telling the athletes that!
2. What sports are in the Commonwealth Games?
The main sports in the Commonwealth Games are inspired by the Olympics. This includes athletics, swimming, cycling, diving, gymnastics, boxing, and many more. However, there are some sports that aren’t in the Olympics, most notably netball, squash, and lawn bowls. Cricket will also be returning to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since its debut in 1998. This time it is only for female cricketers and the matches will be played in the Twenty20 format. In total, 280 events in 20 sports will be competed in 2022.
Another one of the biggest differences between the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics is that events for able-bodied athletes and para-athletes are scheduled to happen at the same time. In 2022, para-athletes will take part in athletics, swimming, track cycling, triathlon, powerlifting, lawn bowls, table tennis, and wheelchair basketball.
3. Which countries take part in the Commonwealth Games?
The Commonwealth Games is open to member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. These are mainly current and former British colonies. The very first Commonwealth Games in 1930 welcomed athletes from 11 different countries. Fast-forward to 2022 and 72 countries and territories have confirmed that they’re sending athletes to Birmingham. These include some big nations like Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica, India, Malaysia, Kenya, and Nigeria.
However, several small dependent states compete under their own flags, such as Gibraltar, the Cook Islands, Norfolk Island, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands. Team GB is also split up for the Commonwealth Games, so athletes from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey will be competing with their respective flags on their chests.
4. Which country has won the most gold medals at the Commonwealth Games?
Following the conclusion of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australia tops the all-time medal with 2,415 medals, which includes an impressive 932 golds. England is in second position with 2,144 medals, and Canada takes third place with 1,555 medals. The full top 10 is listed below:
- Australia – 2,415 medals (932 golds)
- England – 2,144 medals (714 golds)
- Canada – 1,555 medals (484 golds)
- New Zealand – 657 medals (159 golds)
- India – 503 medals (181 golds)
- Scotland – 451 medals (119 golds)
- South Africa – 389 medals (130 golds)
- Wales – 306 medals (67 golds)
- Kenya – 237 medals (85 golds)
- Nigeria – 236 medals (70 golds)
It’s worth noting that the official Commonwealth Games medal tables are ordered by gold medals, rather than total medals.
5. When was the Commonwealth Games last held in the United Kingdom?
The Commonwealth Games has been held in several different countries since its inception. However, repeat hosts are much more common than the Olympic Games due to the smaller number and size of the participating nations. The last time the Commonwealth Games was held in the UK was only in 2014 when Glasgow hosted the celebration of sport. Manchester was the last English host city, back in 2002.
The 2026 Commonwealth Games is scheduled to be held in the Australian state of Victoria across several cities and towns.