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Commonwealth Games: Facts and Figures

The Commonwealth of Nations, better known as the Commonwealth and previously called the British Commonwealth, ...

Commonwealth Games: Facts and Figures

The Commonwealth of Nations, better known as the Commonwealth and previously called the British Commonwealth, is an inter-governmental organisation of 53 independent member states across all continents. The members have a combined population of 2.3 billion people, almost a third of the world population. All but two of these countries, Mozambique and Rwanda, were formerly part of the British Empire or have a direct constitutional link with a country which was formerly part of the British Empire.

The admission of Mozambique, in 1995, was a unique occurrence, in recognition of Mozambique’s support for the Commonwealth’s policies towards South Africa and Rhodesia during the Apartheid era; consideration for Rwanda’s admission was considered an “exceptional circumstance” by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Games, held every four years, are generally regarded as the Commonwealth’s most visible activity.

Though there are currently 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate in the Games.

The four home nations of the United Kingdom — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games.


Individual teams are also sent from the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (unlike at the Olympic Games, where the combined Great Britain team represents all four home nations and the Crown dependencies).

Many of the British overseas territories like Bermuda, Falkland Islands and Gibraltar also send their own teams.

The Australian external territory of Norfolk Island also sends its own team, as do the Cook Islands and Niue, two states in free association with New Zealand.

— The event was first held in 1930 under the title of the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The event was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and gained its current title in 1978.

— Only six teams have attended each edition of the Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.

The Australians have been the highest achievers for eleven games, England for eight and Canada for one.

— Team sports were included for the first time in 1998 Commonwealth games, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Currently three team disciplines, Hockey, Netball (women only) and Rugby 7s are contested.


— Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe is the most successful sportsperson at the CW Games. In two appearances (1998 and 2002), he won 10 golds and one silver. In one edition as well, Thorpe holds the record with six golds and one silver, in 2002.

— Northern Ireland’s shooter David Calvert, who already holds the record for the most appearances, will be appearing in the 11th edition of the Games in 2018 after making his debut in 1978. The 67-year-old shooter has won four golds and four bronze medals during his amazing Commonwealth Games career.

— Nauru’s weightlifter Marcus Stephen won twelve medals (seven golds and five silvers) at the Games between 1990 and 2002. He remained elected President of Nauru from 2007-2011. His achievements have helped place Nauru (the smallest independent state in the Commonwealth, at 21 square kilometer and with a population of little over 13,000 in 2016) in nineteenth place on the all-time Commonwealth Games medal table. Nauru’s Total Tally: 10 golds, 10 silvers and nine bronzes — all via weightlifting.

Pakistan and the Commonwealth Games

The Pakistanis have competed in 12 of the 20 previous Commonwealth Games, from 1954.

Note: Pakistan didn’t participate from 1974 to 1986 as the country had pulled out of the Commonwealth in 1972, in protest over the organisation’s ineffective role to stop India’s aggression against Pakistan in the 1971 war which resulted in the separation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. They rejoined the Commonwealth in 1989.

When Pakistan had their best ever tally in 1962, seven of the eight gold medals came in wrestling. They finished fourth in the overall medal table in that edition.

In the last edition, 2014, Pakistan’s position was 22nd among 71 nations.


The four medals in 2014: Wrestler Qamar Abbas, boxer Mohammad Waseem, judoka Shah Hussain Shah won silver medals, while wrestler Azhar Hussain won a bronze medal.

Wrestlers Mohammad Bashir, Mohammad Akhtar and Mohammad Faiz won gold medals at three consecutive Commonwealth Games.

Pakistan stands 15th in the all-time tally of medals.


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Ijaz Chaudhary

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