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Commonwealth Games: Disability News & Information

  • Synopsis: The Commonwealth Games now include fully integrated events for elite athletes with a disability.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games (known as the British Empire Games from 1930-1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954-1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970-1974) is an international, multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and, with the exception of 1942 and 1946, which were canceled due to World War II, has taken place every four years since then.

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The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and involve the elite athletes of the Commonwealth of Nations. The multi-national and multi-sport event has been previously held in Melbourne in 2006 and Manchester in 2002.

The Commonwealth Games have been known by a number of different names in the past. 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', this was simplified to the current name, 'Commonwealth Games' in 1978.

Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, work began within several countries and organizations to include athletes with disabilities in the able-bodied sport system. This included adding events for athletes with disabilities to major games such as the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games, and integration of these athletes into able-bodied sports organizations.

The Commonwealth Games are one of the largest sporting events in the world.

However, unlike the Olympics, the last two Commonwealth Games have included fully-integrated events for elite athletes with a disability, meaning any medals won by athletes with a disability count toward the final medal count of the team for which they compete.

Within the Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events in 1994, and at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games they were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games. This policy continued with the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Ten medal events took place across five sports (Athletics, Lawn Bowls, Powerlifting, Swimming and Table Tennis) and about 130 elite athletes with a disability were present.

The British Paralympic Association supports the inclusion of events for disabled athletes in future Commonwealth Games programs, whilst supporting the ideals of fair competition and integrity of competition for future Games.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland between 23rd July and 3rd August 2014. The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi-sports event that Scotland has ever hosted, bringing over 6,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries to the city to compete in 17 different sports in 13 venues over 11 days.

Quick Facts: Commonwealth Games & Disability

Within the Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events in 1994, and at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games they were included as full members of their national teams, making these the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games. This policy has continued with the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, where Canadian Chantal Petitclerc became the first athlete with a disability to carry her country's flag in the Opening Ceremonies of an integrated games. Individual athletes such as swimmer Natalie du Toit and track athlete Oscar Pistorius have competed as equals against able bodied athletes at various events including the Olympic Games.

Latest Commonwealth Games Publications

Full List of Commonwealth Games Documents (3 Items)




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