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A brief history of the Commonwealth Games

Fireworkds display during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. REUTERS/David Gray

The 21st Commonwealth Games got underway on 4 April in the Australian city of Gold Coast. The event will feature about 4,300 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations who will compete across 23 disciplines. Here’s a brief history of the 88-year-old event that takes place every four years:

  • The launch: The first Games were staged in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, when Britain still had an empire. Called the British Empire Games, it featured 400 athletes from 11 countries.
  • The missing years: The Games have been conducted every four years except in 1942 and 1946, due to World War II.
  • Gender equality: The 2018 Games will be the first time that there will be an equal number of men’s and women’s medal events.
  • The name game: The event underwent three name changes. In 1954 it was renamed British Empire and Commonwealth Games, in 1970 it was changed to British Commonwealth Games and in 1978 it became known as the Commonwealth Games which continues to date.
  • Asian debut: The 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur marked the first time the event was held in Asia.
  • Hosting record: Australia has hosted the most number of Games the first of which were held in Syndey in 1938.
  • Aussie domination: Australia is the most successful nation in the history of the Games winning 852 gold medals in 20 editions.