Commonwealth Games has created global ties of friendship out of the sins on Empire – Scotsman comment

When the Commonwealth Games began in 1930, they were known as the British Empire Games.

A water-skier tales part in the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games (Picture: Nick England/Getty Images for Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay)
A water-skier tales part in the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games (Picture: Nick England/Getty Images for Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay)

However, while the Empire is no more and there has been a growing awareness of its many sins, the “Friendly Games”, as they are sometimes called, have helped to create enduring bonds of global camaraderie that are important for many more reasons than just sport.

At the first games in Hamilton, Canada, there were only 11 countries and 400 athletes, but the event has grown significantly over the decades and the sporting action that begins today will see 4,600 people from 72 nations and territories – with a collective population of some 2.5 billion – compete for a total of 1,875 medals.

A cynic might see it merely as a form of British soft power. But, in reality, it is a chance for all the members to win friends and influence. It is to the Commonwealth's credit that four countries which were never actually part of the Empire – Gabon, Mozambique, Rwanda and Togo – decided to join anyway.

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Team Scotland: Why it's about 'more than just medals' at the Birmingham 2022 Com...

For the members of Team Scotland, it is a chance to compete on an international stage, pit themselves against some of the best athletes in the world, and get used to the pressure that this can bring. And it’s also a golden opportunity to put one over rivals for places in the Olympic squad.

But most of all, these games are about celebrating peaceful, friendly competition between nations. And so, in that spirit, we would like to wish each and every competitor – particularly those representing Scotland – the best of luck.

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