This year the sunny City of Durban lodged their bid to Host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Ahead of the Host City announcement set to be held in Auckland this September; below are a few facts and figures around the much anticipated “Friendly Games”.
- The first Commonwealth Games took over thirty years of discussion and planning
The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada where 11 countries sent 400 athletes to take part in a total of 6 sports and 59 events. Bobby Robinson, a major influence within athletics in Canada at the time, finally implemented the event that had been talked about amongst Commonwealth nations for over thirty years with the City of Hamilton providing $30,000 to help cover travelling costs of the participating nations.
- The Games were officially referred to as the Commonwealth Games in 1978
The Games, also referred to as the ‘Friendly Games’ are hosted every four years with only two exceptions in which the games were postponed in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II and its economic after math. From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games, after a few more changes through the years the 1978 Games in Edmonton saw the final name change to the Commonwealth Games.
- Team sports were only introduced to The Games in 1998
Only single competition sports had been on the programme from 1930 up to and including 1994. It was only at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur that the introduction of team sports was implemented. This meant nations could partake in cricket (50 over game), hockey (men and women), netball (women) and rugby 7’s (men) with slight variations through the different Games.
- Commitment to Youth Development
In the year 2000 the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) took on the added responsibility of the Commonwealth Youth Games, this inspiring moment meant the Games were for the first time open to young athletes between 18 years of age and a minimum age of 14. The Youth Games provided an opportunity for aspiring young athletes from the Commonwealth to gain first-hand experience of what the Commonwealth Games entailed.
- Interesting friends over the ages
Although there are 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a few dependent territories compete under their own flag which brings up the number of teams that participate in the Commonwealth Games to 71 teams. Over the years, there have been many interesting stories, friendships formed and lives impacted by the Games. One of which involved a Scottish lawn bowler named, Willie Wood, who was the first competitor to have competed in seven Commonwealth Games, from 1974 to 2002.
- The South African journey
Since its inception in 1930 the Commonwealth Games has seen a total of 20 events. Of the 20 games hosted, South Africa has only taken part in 12, as under Apartheid, South Africa was subjected to many international boycotts that aimed to put the Nationalist government under pressure, to change its policies. This resulted in South Africa leaving the Commonwealth Games in 1961. Last year the Commonwealth Games took place in Glasgow. South Africa won 40 medals, the most amount of medals since its readmission to the Games in 1994.
As sport loving South African’s we now await the possibility of rewriting history with Durban’s Bid to bring the Games to African soil for the first time. With just three more months until the exciting announcement we call on all South African’s to join in support of 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid by visiting www.durban-2022.com and tweeting messages of support @Durban2022 with the hashtag #readytoinspire.