Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games    
Prepared by  Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Mr Greg Blood, Australian Institute of Sport Emeritus Researcher (March 2017)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 3 April 2018
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Community Sport Coaching


The Commonwealth Games, often called the 'Friendly Games', are a major international multi-sport event held every four years. While not as large as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, it remains an important sporting event for many Commonwealth nations. 

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is responsible for the direction and control of the Games. Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) is responsible for Games operations, publicity, and development in Australia. 

The Commonwealth Games are considered an important event by many countries because they: 

  • provide a cultural, political, and economic platform (generally leveraged by national governments) bringing together over fifty independent and sovereign states around the major sporting event; 
  • are often a catalyst for building and/or upgrading major sports facilities and infrastructure within the host city. also provide international exposure for the host destination;
  • highlight the strong sporting rivalries between competing nations in a number of popular sporting events—which is a critical factor in attracting audiences and driving revenues through ticket sales, marketing activities, and media rights;
  • are used as an international development opportunity for emerging elite athletes (for example: it was the first major international multi-sport competition for a number of highly successful Australian Olympic champions including Cathy Freeman, Sally Pearson, and Ian Thorpe); and
  • stand as a significant major event for popular Commonwealth sports such as rugby sevens, netball, squash and bowlsthe competition is close if not on a par with world championship level competition.

The Commonwealth Games sports program must include ten core sports and up to eight optional sports. Para-sports were introduced as demonstration sports at the XV Commonwealth Games held in 1994, Victoria (Canada) and became fully inclusive medal sports at the XVII Commonwealth Games held in 2002, Manchester (England). Host cities now must include 4 core and up to 3 optional para-sports.

The David Dixon Award is presented to an athlete by the President of the Commonwealth Games at the closing ceremony. David Dixon was the honorary secretary of the Commonwealth Games Federation for 17 years and the award is given to an outstanding athlete based on their performance, fair play, and overall contribution to their team’s participation. Athletes are nominated by their Commonwealth Games Association at the end of the final day of competition and the winner is selected by a panel comprising the CGF President and representatives from each of the six Commonwealth Regions. The award was introduced at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England [source: Commonwealth Games Federation].

The Games have been called the Commonwealth Games since 1978, but historically they have been known by various other names including: the British Empire Games (1930-1950); the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (1954-1966); and the British Commonwealth Games (1970-1974). They have been held every four years since 1930 excluding 1942 and 1946 when they were cancelled due to World War II.

Gold Coast 2018 (4 - 15 April 2018)

WebsiteWebsite     FacebookFacebook     TwitterTwitter     YouTubeYouTube     InstagramInstagram

Core sports: athletics, aquatics (swimming and diving), badminton, boxing, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, and weightlifting. Another eight sports have been selected from the Commonwealth Games Federation's optional sports list - basketball, beach volleyball, cycling (road, track, mountain bike), gymnastics, shooting (clay, target, full bore, pistol, small bore), table tennis, triathlon and wrestling. The program will include seven para-sports - athletics, lawn bowls, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis, track cycling, and triathlon [GC2018 to host largest para-sport programGC2018 Media Release, 14 March 2016]. 

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) will be the first in the history of a major multi-sport Games to have an equal number of men and women’s medal events with seven events added to the program, taking the total number of medal events at Gold Coast 2018 to a record-breaking 275 [Queensland Government Media Release, 7 October 2016].

This new medal events are:

  • one additional women’s weightlifting event (+90kg)
  • three new women’s boxing events (45kg – 48kg, 54 - 57kg, and +75kg); and
  • three new women’s track cycling events (keirin, team sprint, & team pursuit).

Birmingham 2022 (27 July - 7 August 2022)

On 21 December 2017 the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced the selection of Birmingham (UK) as the host of the 2022 Games. 

WebsiteWebsite     FacebookFacebook     TwitterTwitter

2022 Commonwealth Games Bid History 

In September 2015 the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) awarded Durban the 2022 Games. Bidding Site

In March 2017, after a review of Durban's hosting proposals concluded that there had been a significant departure from the original documentation which would not meet the CGF requirements, the CGF announced that they would be exploring alternative options, including potentially appointing a new host city for the 2022 Games [source: Commonwealth Games Federation media release, March 13, 2017].

In April the CGF announced that they had received expressions of interest in hosting the 2022 Games from Australia [Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, or Sydney], Canada [Victoria], Malaysia [Kuala Lumpar], and the United Kingdom [Liverpool or Birmingham] [source: Commonwealth Games Federation media release, April 28, 2017]. However, in the end Birmingham, England was the only city to submit an official bid [source: Inside the Games news article, November 1, 2017]. 

Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA)

WebsiteWebsite     FacebookFacebook     TwitterTwitter     InstagramInstagram

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF)

WebsiteWebsite     FacebookFacebook     TwitterTwitter     YouTubeYouTube     InstagramInstagram

The first Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2000.

  • 2000 Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 2004 Bendigo, Australia
  • 2008 Pune, India
  • 2011 Isle of Man
  • 2015 Apia, Samoa
  • 2017 Bahamas, Nassau
  • 2021 Belfast, Northern Ireland

A decision was taken at the General Assembly in 2008 to award the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games to Samoa (5-11 September 2015) and also to subsequently adjust the quadrennial cycle, so that future events will take place in 2017, 2021 and so on.

All competitors are a minimum of 14 years and a maximum of 18 years old in the year of the competition. A maximum number of 1000 competitors are invited to participate from every Commonwealth Games Association.

Commonwealth Games 

Medal Table Commonwealth Games






1930 Hamilton
1934 London
1938 Sydney
1950 Auckland
1954 Vancouver
1958 Cardiff
1962 Perth
1966 Kingston
1970 Edinburgh
1974 Christchurch
1978 Edmonton
1982 Brisbane
1986 Edinburgh
1990 Auckland
1994 Victoria
1998 Kuala Lumpur
2002 Manchester
2006 Melbourne
2010 Delhi
2014 Glasgow
2018 Gold Coast
2022 Birmingham
Gold Medals Gold: 49
Silver Medals Silver: 42
Bronze Medals Bronze: 46
Total: 137
Rank: 2

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 417

Gold Medals Gold: 74
Silver Medals Silver: 55
Bronze Medals Bronze: 49
Total: 178
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 396

Gold Medals Gold: 84
Silver Medals Silver: 69
Bronze Medals Bronze: 68
Total: 221
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 425

Gold Medals Gold: 81
Silver Medals Silver: 61
Bronze Medals Bronze: 63
Total: 205
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 371

Gold Medals Gold: 79
Silver Medals Silver: 61
Bronze Medals Bronze: 57
Total: 197
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 320

Gold Medals Gold: 87
Silver Medals Silver: 52
Bronze Medals Bronze: 42
Total: 181
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 250

Gold Medals Gold: 52
Silver Medals Silver: 54
Bronze Medals Bronze: 56
Total: 162
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 248

Gold Medals Gold: 40
Silver Medals Silver: 46
Bronze Medals Bronze: 35
Total: 121
Rank: 2

Australasian Flag No. Athletes: 235

Gold Medals Gold: 39
Silver Medals Silver: 39
Bronze Medals Bronze: 29
Total: 107
Rank: 1

Australasian Flag No. Athletes: 210

Gold Medals Gold: 24
Silver Medals Silver: 33
Bronze Medals Bronze: 27
Total: 84
Rank: 3

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 148

Gold Medals Gold: 29
Silver Medals Silver: 28
Bronze Medals Bronze: 25
Total: 82
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 167

Gold Medals Gold: 36
Silver Medals Silver: 24
Bronze Medals Bronze: 22
Total: 82
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 107

Gold Medals Gold: 23
Silver Medals Silver: 28
Bronze Medals Bronze: 22
Total: 73
Rank: 2

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 101

Gold Medals Gold: 38
Silver Medals Silver: 36
Bronze Medals Bronze: 31
Total: 105
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 208

Gold Medals Gold: 27
Silver Medals Silver: 22
Bronze Medals Bronze: 17
Total: 66
Rank: 2

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 104

Gold Medals Gold: 20
Silver Medals Silver: 11
Bronze Medals Bronze: 17
Total: 48
Rank: 2

Australasian Flag No. Athletes: 78

Gold Medals Gold: 34
Silver Medals Silver: 27
Bronze Medals Bronze: 19
Total: 80
Rank: 1

Australasian Flag No. Athletes: 150

Gold Medals Gold: 25
Silver Medals Silver: 19
Bronze Medals Bronze: 22
Total: 66
Rank: 1

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 168

Gold Medals Gold: 8
Silver Medals Silver: 4
Bronze Medals Bronze: 2
Total: 14
Rank: 3

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 28

Gold Medals Gold: 3
Silver Medals Silver: 4
Bronze Medals Bronze: 1
Total: 8
Rank: 5

Australian Flag No. Athletes: 11


  • Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games five times: 
    1. Sydney, New South Wales (1938)
    2. Perth, Western Australia (1962)
    3. Brisbane, Queensland (1982) 
    4. Melbourne, Victoria (2006)
    5. Gold Coast, Queensland (2018)
  • Australia has finished on top of the Commonwealth Games medal table twelve times.
  • Australia’s Leisel Jones, Susie O’Neill, and Ian Thorpe (swimming) share the record for the most gold medals won in Commonwealth Games competition at ten.
  • Australia’s swimmers Emily Seebohm (2010), Susie O’Neill (1998), and Canada’s swimmer Ralph Hutton (1966) share the record of winning eight medals in total during one Commonwealth Games.
  • Australia’s Alexandra Croak became the first athlete to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in two different sports. Croak won a gold medal in diving in Delhi (2010), and had previously won gold in artistic gymnastics in Manchester (2002). Note: track and road cycling are not consider different sports.
  • Kasey Brown won Australia’s 2,000th medal (combined gold, silver, bronze) during the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi (2010), taking bronze in the Women’s Singles Squash event.
  • The women’s hockey team won Australia’s 800th gold medal at the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi (2010). 
[source: XIX Commonwealth Games Delhi, statistics]


  • 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast. Website links relating to information on the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, including general information, the bid process and venues. [Pandora: Australia’s web archive] 
  • 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne. A host of website links relating to information on the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, including government, National sporting organisations, media, tourism, transport, venues, environment, blogs, Queen’s baton relay and more. [Pandora: Australia’s web archive]
  • 2002 Commonwealth Games, Manchester. Media coverage of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. [Pandora: Australia’s web archive] 

books iconBooks


    • Are the Commonwealth Games still relevant? Greg Blood, The Roar, (March 2017). Discusses the traditional role of the Commonwealth Games as a pathway event to international competition in an era where the relevance of the Games is being questioned. 
    • Gold Coast Games will struggle to stay relevant – here’s why. Tom Heenan, Lecturer in Sports Studies, Monash University, The Conversation, (August 2014). Questions the ongoing relevance of the Commonwealth Games and suggests Australia would be better positioned to use the Asian Games instead. 
    • The Glasgow games are over but the legacy debate continues. Kenneth Gibb, Professor of Housing Economics, University of Glasgow, The Conversation, (August 2014). Looks at the key legacy projects from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and what success will look like. 
    • Integration not segregation: para-sports at the Glasgow Games. Simon Darcy, Professor & Co-Director Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre - UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney, The Conversation, (July 2014). Highlights the historical and current participation of disabled athletes at the Commonwealth Games. 

    Report iconReports

    • Commonwealth Games: friendly rivalry, Jolly, R. Parliamentary Library, (2013). An extensive briefing document covering Australia's involvement in the Games particularly in relation to hosting.  
    • Clearinghouse for Sport has a collection of books, reports and documents relating to the Commonwealth Games, including early material from the British Empire Games, the 1982 Brisbane Games and 2006 Melbourne Games.

    Research iconResearch

    Video iconVideos

    • Clearinghouse for Sport has an extensive DVD and digital video collection on the Commonwealth Games since 1982. [Please note: access and use restrictions may apply.]

    Website iconWebsites

    Related Topics


    Is this information complete? 

    The Clearinghouse for Sport is a sector-wide knowledge sharing initiative, and as such your contributions are encouraged and appreciated. If you would like to suggest a resource, submit a publication, or provide feedback on this topic, please contact us.
    Alternatively, if you would like to be kept up to date with research and information published about this topic, please request a research profile setup.