Commonwealth Games fun facts: which countries have been at every event, why is it called the ‘Friendly Games’?

The 2022 Commonwealth Games have started in Birmingham

More than 5,000 athletes are expected to travel to the UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham, over the coming days for the Commonwealth Games.

The international multi-sport event involves athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations and territories, and attracts top sporting stars from around the world who all compete for medals.

The 2022 games began on Thursday 28 July 2022 and will run until Monday 8 August.

It’s the third time the games, which are held every four years and are often referred to as the “Friendly Games”, have been hosted in England.

But, do you know why they are called the “Friendly Games”? Or which six countries have been to every one of the Games in the events’ 92 year history?

Here’s the answers to those questions, and even more fun facts about the Games.

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Performers gather during the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay on July 28, 2022 in Birmingham, England. The Queen's Baton Relay is touring England for 25 days in a celebration of sport, culture and communities during the final countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Why are the Commonwealth Games known as the ‘Friendly Games’?

The Games are also known as “The Friendly Games” as, up until 1998, all of the events were single competition rather than completed in teams.

The 1998 Games then saw the inclusion of team games, including netball, cricket, hockey and rugby 7s.

Which six countries have been at every Commonwealth Games?

A total of 72 countries are eligible to take part in the Games.

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Only six of the eligible countries, however, have competed in every one of the Games.

They are:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Canada

Of those six countries, only four have won at least one gold medal in every Games.

They are:

  • England
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Canada

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What are fun facts about the Commonwealth Games 2022?

  • More than 5,000 athletes from 72 countries are expected to compete.
  • There will be 283 different medal events across a wide range of disciplines, including track and field events, weightlifting and martial arts such as Boxing and Judo.
  • For the first time in a global, multi-sport event, there are more women’s events than men’s events.
  • The 2022 Games is expected to have the most events for women and disabled athletes in the history of the event.
  • 2022 will be the first games to include Esports, but this will be as a limited pilot with separate branding and medals.
  • The 2022 games will be the most expensive sporting event in the UK since the London Olympics in 2012, at an expected cost of £778 million. The Olympics cost £8.8 billion.
  • The 2022 Commonwealth games will be held across 15 venues in and around Birmingham, including a new £73 million aquatics centre in Sandwell.
  • £72 million has been spent over the past two years to update and improve the city’s flagship Alexander Stadium, which will host the popular athletics event.
  • Around 13,000 volunteers will ensure the smooth running of the games
  • Around 3,000 police officers will secure the games, including 1,000 from West Midlands Police and 2,000 from other UK forces.
  • More than one million people are expected to attend the Games.

What are even more fun facts about the history of the Commonwealth Games?

  • The oldest person to compete at the Games was 79-year-old Canadian shooter Robert Pitcairn who competed in 2018. 
  • The youngest person to compete at the Games was Anna Hursey who was age 11 when she represented Wales in doubles table tennis in 2018.
  • The official patron of the Commonwealth Games is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The first Commonwealth Games, then known as the British Empire Games, were first held in 1930.
  • The games have taken place every four years since 1930, except 1942 and 1946, making the 2022 Games the 22nd.

How can I watch the Commonwealth Games 2022?

You can buy tickets to watch any of the events live and in person on the Commonwealth Games official website, although tickets are running out for some events.

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If you’re not able to get a ticket for the Games, or you’re not able to travel to Birmingham, you can watch full coverage of the Commonwealth Games 2022 on BBC channels and  BBC iPlayer.