Commonwealth Games: When was the first and how often are they held?

·2-min read
Commonwealth Games: When was the first and how often are they held?

The Commonwealth Games are officially underway, as the opening ceremony kicked off last night (July 28) at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

Over the packed 11 days, the city will be welcoming 72 teams and around 6,500 athletes from across all Commonwealth countries.

This is the third time the Games have been hosted by England.

The first ever Commonwealth Games looked very different from the one being held in Birmingham right now, as only 400 athletes from 11 countries competed.

But when were the Commonwealth Games established and how often are they held? Here’s everything we know.

When were the first Commonwealth Games?

The first Commonwealth Games were held in August 1930 in Hamilton, Canada. The sporting tournament was organised by the Canadian journalist Bobby Robinson, who was inspired by the Inter-Empire Championships held in London in 1911.

The 11 countries that competed in the first Games were England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Bermuda, British Guiana, Canada, Newfoundland (now part of Canada), New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa.

England topped the leaderboard with 61 medals and they were made up of 25 gold, 23 silver and 13 bronze. Canada came in a close second with 54 medals.

The Games got its current name during the 1978 Games in Edmonton, Canada. Before then it was better known as the British Empire Games, and the main events included boxing, rowing, athletics, lawn bowls, swimming and wrestling. The male-dominated Games allowed women to only take part in aquatic sports such as swimming.

The games are a lot more diverse now. The 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur saw the introduction of team sports, with nations taking part in hockey, netball, rugby 7s, and cricket. Then in 2002, it became a fully inclusive sports programme when it introduced full medal events for elite athletes with a disability.

How often are they held?

Since its beginnings in 1930, the Games have been held every four years, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War.

The next Commonwealth Games will be held in 2026, in Victoria, Australia.

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