History of the Commonwealth Games: British Empire Games to 2010. The Commonwealth Games have grown to include more sports and more nations since the inception of the event in 1930. First contested in 1930, the Commonwealth Games often are referred to as “the Friendly Games” by officials and organizers because the events are considered to be less structured and not quite as strict as the Olympic Games. Despite the perceived differences between the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Games were, in fact, designed to mimic the Olympic Games.
Held every four years, the Commonwealth Games feature 17 sports. Some of the sports are Olympic-sanctioned events and contested in the Olympic Games, such as swimming, athletics and boxing, but there are additional sports, as well, such as rugby and netball. Only athletes from Commonwealth Nations are eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games.
History of the Commonwealth Games
The first Commonwealth Games were held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930. That year, 11 countries sent four hundred athletes to participate in 59 events across six sports. Since 1930, the Commonwealth Games have seen many changes, including name changes, additional sports and additional nations.
The first of these name changes came in 1954. When the Commonwealth Games opened in 1930, the event was known as the British Empire Games. That name stuck until 1954, when the name of the multi-sport event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. By 1970, the name again was changed to British Commonwealth Games, and in 1978 the current Commonwealth Games name was first used.
Growth of the Commonwealth Games
Before 1998, the Commonwealth Games traditionally hosted only single-athlete events. In 1998, however, team sports were introduced at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. For the first time, cricket, field hockey, netball and rugby 7s were contested. In 2002 field hockey, netball and rugby 7s again were contested, though cricket was dropped from the schedule. In 2006 basketball was added to the program, but was again dropped in 2010, and field hockey, netball and rugby 7s were the only team sports contested.
The Commonwealth Games have included disabled athletes since 2002. Disabled athletes participate in swimming, athletics, table tennis and powerlifting at the Commonwealth Games.
Since 1930, the Commonwealth Games has grown to include athletes from 71 countries. In 2010, 6,081 athletes participated in 260 events across 17 sports. Only six countries have competed in each of the 19 Commonwealth Games, including Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games were held from Oct. 3-Oct. 14 in Delhi, India. The 2014 Commonwealth Games have been awarded to Glasgow, Scotland.