The Commonwealth Games are a lot of fun. Much like the Olympics, they bring together athletes in all kinds of disciplines across countries traditionally covered by the Commonwealth. But how much do you actually know about the Games? Here are some fun facts about the Commonwealth Games to help clue you up on everything that takes place.
1. The Commonwealth Games have been unfolding since the 30s.
The first Commonwealth Games were known as the ‘British Empire Games’. They were first held in 1930, and took place in Canada. Nowadays, they still take place every four years, much like the Olympic Games.
2. Very few countries have seen it all!
Only six countries have actually taken part in all of the Commonwealth Games since they first started. They are England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
3. The UK splinters for the Commonwealth Games.
Unlike in the Olympic Games, the countries of the United Kingdom split up – meaning England plays off against Scotland, etc.
4. It’s a huge celebration of sport.
Each time, between 50 and 70 countries are invited to take part in the Commonwealth Games. Many of them accept!
5. Sport numbers can vary from Games to Games.
Between 16 and 20 main or core sports, and 4 and 10 para sports are featured in the Commonwealth Games. In order to be accepted and included in the program, they must be recognized and approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
6. Thousands of athletes come from far and wide.
Up to 7,000 athletes are generally expected to participate in the modern Commonwealth Games. That’s a lot of talent to keep an eye on! As of the time of writing, the next Games to take place will be in 2022, 2026 and 2030.
7. Australians are Commonwealth champions.
Australia has been the most successful country participating in the Commonwealth Games so far. They have won over 2,000 medals!
8. It’s a non-pro event.
The main criteria for athletes to participate in the Commonwealth Games is that they must be amateurs and not professional athletes. They cannot be paid for their participation in the sport they engage in, either!
9. The name’s changed over the years!
Believe it or not, the Commonwealth Games have only been referred to as this name since 1978. Before then, they normally had a name with ‘British’ in the title. As the field’s expanded and time has moved on, the British label dropped away.
10. Going for gold!
Hundreds of gold medals are up for grabs at the Commonwealth Games – normally between 250 and 300! Plenty to go for, then!
11. WWII silenced the Games for a while.
The only periods when the Commonwealth Games didn’t take place were during World War II. The Games due to take place in 1942 and 1946 were effectively canceled for obvious reasons.
12. Asia made a breakthrough in the late 90s.
The first city in Asia to host the Commonwealth Games was Kuala Lumpur, which became the Games’ site for 1998.
13. 2022 was up for grabs.
The 2022 Games take place in Birmingham, England – however, it was Durban, South Africa, that originally won the bid to host. They were actually stripped of the title after hosting concerns arose.
FAQs about The Commonwealth Games
Do the Commonwealth Games take place every four years?
Yes - the only time this hasn’t been the case was during World War II, when the Games were delayed to 1950.
What are the main differences between the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics?
For one thing, only athletes from countries in the Commonwealth can take part. What’s more, only amateur athletes are allowed to participate!
Are the Olympic Games much bigger than the Commonwealth?
Yes - by around double the athletes, as well as an extra week in terms of events! However, the Commonwealth Games remain hugely important, and extremely popular.
Do you know any fun facts about the Commonwealth Games? Share them in the comments below!