1986 - Edinburgh

"The Boycott Games"

In 1986, Edinburgh became the first city to host the Commonwealth games twice. However, the Games will be remembered mostly for the large political boycott that took place.

The boycotts came about because of the Thatcher Government's attitude towards British sporting links with apartheid-era South Africa. In total, the Games were boycotted by 32 of the 59 Commonwealth nations.

A large number of the boycotting countries were African, Asian and Caribbean countries meaning that the Games were reduced to almost a whites-only affair.

The boycott caused further problems when it was revealed that due to the lack of participation and associated decline in anticipated broadcasting and sponsorship revenues, the Organising Committee was facing a serious financial black hole.

The controversial figure Robert Maxwell, the owner of the Daily Mirror,  stepped in to offer funding and took over as chairman. However, Maxwell only caused further problems. Despite promising to invest £2 million, the new chairman of the Games only gave £250,000. On a budget of £14 million the Games opened with a deficit of £3 million which eventually became £4.3 million

Instead of financially saving the Games, Maxwell asked creditors to forego half the payment due to them to keep the event out of liquidation. The debt eventually paid off three years later in 1989 with the city of Edinburgh losing approximately £500,000.

It was hugely unfair that Edinburgh suffered so greatly in 1986 as there had been so many fond memories of the Scottish hospitality offered in the1970 Commonwealth Games in the same city just sixteen years earlier.

Date Games held: July 24-August 2

Number of nations represented: 27

Number of competitors: 1,660

Number of medals awarded: 502

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