The Commonwealth Games, which were held for the first time in Hamilton Ontario, had around 11 countries participating in 6 sports and 59 disciplines. Nearly 400 athletes participated in it. The number of countries participating in the event, the number of athletes and sports has increased, in recent times. In the recent Commonwealth Games, held in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006 around 71 countries participated, with around 5,000 athletes contesting in 17 sports. The Commonwealth Games that was conducted ever four years was stalled during 1942 and 1946, due to the Second World War. The Commonwealth Games Federation has 53 members at present.
The Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is flagged off with grandeur. The parade of the national teams participating in the event is an integral part of the opening ceremony. The nations parade in the alphabetical order but only the host nation of the previous Commonwealth Games marches first, while the host of the Current Commonwealth Games marches last. Three national flags are unfurled in the stadium. These national flags belong to the previous host nation, current host nation and the next host nation. In the Commonwealth Games, the military is very active unlike the Olympics in honour of the British Military traditions of the Old British Empire.
The Commonwealth Games has also encountered political boycotts. In 1978, the Commonwealth Games were boycotted by Nigeria upholding its protest against New Zealand’s sporting relations with South Africa during the apartheid. The Commonwealth Games was boycotted by 32 of 59 nations belonging to Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, in 1986, protesting the Thatcher Government’s support of the South African sporting relations. Despite the boycott, the number of countries participating in the event is steadily increasing.
The rules and regulations of the Games have allowed the inclusion of minimum ten sports and a maximum of fifteen sports but now it has risen to 17 sports. The list of the core sports are given to the host nation along with the list of approved sports for the host nations to choose from. The Commonwealth Games also allows the provision of including team sports by the host nation with the approval from the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The core sports currently comprise of athletics, aquatics like swimming, diving and synchronized swimming, lawn bowls, netball for women and rugby sevens for men. These sports will remain the core sports in the Commonwealth Games until 2014.
The Commonwealth Games has an approved list of sports that consist of archery, badminton, billiards and snooker, boxing, canoeing, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, judo, rowing, shooting, squash, table tennis, tennis, tenpin bowling, triathlon, weightlifting, wrestling and sailing.
The Commonwealth Games also introduced events for Elite Athlete with a Disability, in the 2002 games and in the same year, the David Dixon Award for outstanding athlete was also instituted by the Commonwealth Games Federation. The Commonwealth Youth Games that invites participation from athletes less than 18 years of age provides a coveted opportunity for the young athletes to display their skill to the world. The Commonwealth Games is an opportunity for the athletes to demonstrate their talents and propagate a healthy sporting culture.