Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games    
Prepared by  Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, 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: 22 December 2017
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The Commonwealth Games, often called the 'Friendly Games', is 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, because:

  • It provides a cultural, political and economic platform (generally leveraged by national governments) bringing together over fifty independent and sovereign states around the major sporting event; 
  • The Games is often a catalyst for building and/or upgrading major sports facilities and infrastructure within the host city. It also provides international exposure for the host destination;
  • The Games 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;
  • Many national sporting organisations use it as an international development opportunity for their 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,
  • It stands as a significant major event for popular Commonwealth sports such as Rugby Sevens, Netball, Squash and Bowls, as the competition is close if not on a par with world championship level competition.

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

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

Although the Games have been called the Commonwealth Games since 1978 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.  

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