The Commonwealth Games | A Guide for Young People

What is the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth is a family of 54 countries from all over the world. They come from the Pacific, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Americas. The Commonwealth countries share certain beliefs like supporting international peace and understanding; liberty of the individual, equal rights for all citizens and the removal of poverty, ignorance and disease.

All Commonwealth countries accept our Queen, Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Games | A Guide for Young People, Queen Elizabeth ii

How did the Commonwealth start?

The British Empire used to rule many colonies across the world. Over time, these colonies started to gain independence. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all became dominions in the 1860s, which means that they had the right to govern themselves. This was all before World War 1. Once World War 1 began, the United Kingdom declared war on behalf of the Empire, without having a conversation with the dominions. After the war ended in 1919, the dominions signed a peace treaty (an agreement to stop fighting) and became members of the League of Nations.

These countries wanted to remain a part of the British Empire but they wanted to be considered equal members. In 1931 the British Empire accepted their status in a new law. This law was referred to as the “British Commonwealth of Nations.” Later, in 1946, the term ‘British’ was removed.

How did the Games start?

Back in 1891, a man called John Astley Cooper who was from Australia, said that the Commonwealth should start competing games together as a way to show their unity. Originally, they only had a few sports to compete against, and over time they gradually added more sports. Now, the games can’t have more than 20 sports in one event.

What sports do they play?

  • Aquatics – diving, swimming and para swimming
  • Athletics and Para Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball 3×3
  • Boxing
  • Cricket T20
  • Cycling – mountain bike, para track, road race, track, time trial
  • Diving
  • Hockey
  • Gymnastics – artistic and rhythmic
  • Judo
  • Lawn bowls and Para lawn bowls
  • Netball
  • Powerlifting
  • Rugby sevens
  • Shooting
  • Squash
  • Table tennis and Para table tennis
  • Triathlon and Para triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wheelchair basketball 3×3
  • Wrestling
The Commonwealth Games | A Guide for Young People, image of cyclists on a track

When are the Commonwealth Games?

The Commonwealth Games run from 28th July – 8th August. Here’s the timetable for the event. If you can’t experience seeing the games in person, you can watch the event on the BBC channels.

Who’s the mascot for the Games?

Perry is the official mascot for Birmingham’s Games! He’s a multi-coloured bull who has rainbow-coloured hexagons on his body with a glistening gold medal. You can download colouring sheets for Perry here.

The Commonwealth Games | A Guide for Young People, Perry the mascot

Fun facts about the Commonwealth Games

  • Roughly 1/3 of people on the planet are in the Commonwealth. That’s roughly 2.5 billion people! 60% of those people are under the age of 29.
  • The Commonwealth Games are also known as the Friendly Games.
  • The 2022 games will be the most expensive sporting event in the UK since the London Olympics, at an expected £778 million (the Olympics cost £8.8 billion!)
  • The Commonwealth Games typically start and end with a ceremony, featuring the athletes who are taking part, and many singers and dancers who give a performance that represents their culture.
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