History of the Commonwealth Games

A photo of a stamp commemorating the 1986 Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh

The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the Friendly Games, has a unique place in sporting history.

The first games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada where 11 countries sent 400 athletes to take part in six sports and 59 events. Since then, the Games have been held every four years (except for 1942 and 1946 because of the Second World War).

The event has seen many changes, not least in its name. From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games and from 1954 until 1966 they were called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Later, from 1970 until 1974, they took the title of the British Commonwealth Games. Finally, at the 1978 Games in Edmonton, Canada this multi-sport event change its name to the Commonwealth Games.

Edinburgh hosted the Games in 1970 and 1986. The 2002 Games in Manchester saw for the first time full medal events for elite athletes with a disability (EAD) in a fully-inclusive sports programme. This will be continued at Glasgow in 2014.

In 2000, Commonwealth Games Scotland devised the Commonwealth Youth Games. These Games were subsequently endorsed by the Commonwealth Games Federation and are open to athletes from 14 to 18 years of age. The inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games were in Edinburgh. The 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games were held on the Isle of Man. The next two Commonwealth Youth Games will be held in Apia, Samoa in 2015 and Castries, Saint Lucia in 2017.

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This video from the Commonwealth Games Federation highlights the Queen's involvement in the Commonwealth Games and reflects on key moments from past events.

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  • Commonwealth Games Federation

    The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is the organisation that is responisble for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games.