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Last Updated: Friday November 16 2007 16:26 GMT

The Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth and its role

Celebrations in Glasgow


Glasgow has been chosen to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The city saw off competition from the Nigerian capital Abuja, which had hoped to be the first location in Africa to host the games. Top officials reached the decision after a meeting in Sri Lanka.

Students find out the history of the games and what they are about. They can have a go at devising their own inclusive sporting event.

Learning aims
  • The form and function of the Commonwealth Games
  • Consider how they would stage an inclusive event


Read out this story about Glasgow hosting the games

Make the point that athletes compete every 4 years at the Commonwealth Games and that unlike the Olympics, the competition is between individuals, not countries.

Inclusion is a fundamental aspect of the Games and this is built upon in the main activity.

Mention that they are known as the 'Friendly Games' because the athletes all come from the Commonwealth 'family'.

Main activity

Divide the class into groups and pose the question.

How would you stage an inclusive sporting event?

Points to consider:

  • the events taking place
  • the food being served
  • suitable for all cultures
  • suitable for all abilities
  • the venue
  • the rewards on offer

Extension activity

Students plan an advertising campaign and design posters to be used.


Recap on the main teaching points and students present their ideas.

Teachers' Background
  • The last games took place during 2006 in Melbourne. These were the 18th Commonwealth Games.

History of the games

• The first Commonwealth Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

• Eleven countries with 400 athletes in total participated in the first Commonwealth Games. $30,000 was provided by the City of Hamilton to these nations to help cover travelling costs.

• Since then, the Games have been conducted every four years except for 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.

• From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games, then the British Empire and Commonwealth Games until 1962. From 1966 to 1974 they took on the title of British Commonwealth Games and from 1978 onwards they have been known as simply the Commonwealth Games.

• Unique characteristics of the Commonwealth Games include being the only Games which shares a common language. All athletes and officials can converse with each other in English, creating an atmosphere that has led to the Commonwealth Games being long known as the "Friendly Games".

The Commonwealth

• The Commonwealth is made from 54 independent countries.

• The Head of the Commonwealth is HM Queen Elizabeth II.

• Headquarters are at Marlborough House in London.

• 1.7 billion people in the Commonwealth (29.8% of the world's population).

• About half of this population are less than 25 years old.

• The member with the biggest population is India (at one billion) and the smallest are Nauru and Tuvalu in the Pacific ocean (with 11,000 people each).

• The richest are Australia, Canada, Singapore and the UK.

• Some of the poorest are Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

• Commonwealth countries work together to make their economies stronger, to improve their systems of government and to improve the skills of their people.

• The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) takes place every two years.

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