In his foreword to The Commonwealth Games by Brian Oliver, Brendan Foster, who won Commonwealth gold and Olympic bronze for Britain over 10,000 metres, recalls that his favourite memory was winning 1500m bronze at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. The race was won by his idol, Kenya’s Olympic champion Kip Keino, and Foster said:
"Nothing has ever meant more to me. Ever since then I have loved the Commonwealth Games."
Tens of thousands of athletes have competed in the Commonwealth Games - known as the Friendly Games - since the first edition in Hamilton in 1930.
The Games are a quadrennial multi-sport gathering that currently involves 72 nations and territories, representing a third of the world's population. Of that total, there are currently 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Their stated shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and promoted at the Games.
English is the official language of the Commonwealth. The other language used at each Commonwealth Games is the language of the host country. There can be more than one language if a country has more than one official language apart from English.
Nineteen cities in nine countries have hosted the event. Australia has staged the Commonwealth Games five times - in 1938, 1962, 1982, 2006 and 2018 - which is more times than any other nation.
Two cities have hosted the Commonwealth Games more than once. Auckland in New Zealand did so in 1950 and 1990 and Scottish capital Edinburgh was the venue in 1970 and 1986.
The most recent Commonwealth Games were held in Gold Coast in Australia in 2018, and the next are due to be staged in English city Birmingham in 2022.
Since 2000, the Commonwealth Games have been complemented by the Commonwealth Youth Games, involving athletes aged 14 to 18. There have been six editions so far in non-Games years, most recently in 2017 in Nassau in The Bahamas.
The purpose of the Games
The man behind the first Games in Hamilton in 1930 was Canada's Melville Marks "Bobby" Robinson who set out the following ambition:
"The Games should be merrier and less stern and will substitute the stimulus of novel adventure for the pressure of international rivalry."
Robinson was the team manager for Canada at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympics and the sports editor of a local newspaper. He persuaded city officials to pay $30,000 to cover teams' travel costs.
The Commonwealth Games have included truly great sport moments.
This includes the "Mile of the Century" race between England's Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy in 1954, Cathy Freeman's display of the Aboriginal flag and the weightlifting genius of South African born Precious McKenzie.
No other international multi-sport Games has the same mix of competitors and events.
Territories which cannot compete at the Olympics are involved, such as Norfolk Island and St Helena.
As well as accommodating the key Olympic sports such as athletics, swimming and gymnastics, sports such as bowls, netball and squash also find a place on the Commonwealth Games programme.
One of the stand-out messages of the Commonwealth Games Federation's Vision Statement reads:
"Through sport, we build peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities across the Commonwealth."
A major factor in the continuing relevance and importance of the Commonwealth Games is the way they serve as a vital development step for athletes who are seeking to take part in the Olympics.
How it began
The Commonwealth emerged in the first half of the 20th century, and the idea of a Commonwealth Games was first raised in 1891, five years before the birth of the modern Olympic Games.
An English Minister, Rev. Astley Cooper, proposed that a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican contest and festival" should take place every four years as a means of "increasing goodwill and good understanding".
Nearly 40 years later, Melville Marks "Bobby" Robinson masterminded the first Commonwealth Games, in 1930 in Hamilton.
Since the Games began, they have taken place every four years with the exception of 1942 and 1946.
Known as the British Empire Games from 1930 to 1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954 to 1966 and the British Commonwealth Games from 1970 to 1974, they have since been known as simply the Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games Federation
Commonwealth Sport is the public facing brand of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and is used to promote the Commonwealth Sport Movement - which includes the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and the Commonwealth Sport Foundation.
Based in London, it is also the governing body of the Commonwealth Games Associations.
The CGF, formed in 1932, regulates the sports that appear at the Games.
Each Commonwealth Games currently includes a total of 22 sports, with three multi-disciplinary sports and a further seven Para-sports which are approved by the CGF.
Core sports must be included on each programme. A number of optional sports may be picked by the host nation, which could include team sports such as basketball.
The President of the CGF is Dame Louise Martin, who competed in swimming for Scotland at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.
Dame Louise was President of Scottish Gymnastics from 1993 to 1999, and joined the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland in 1995. She played a key part in Glasgow's successful bid for the 2014 Games.
In 1999, she became secretary of the CGF before taking over as President in 2015.
A year-round Movement
The CGF does not only organise the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. It works all year round to make a difference across Commonwealth Nations and territories.
A statement from the CGF explains:
"Today, the Commonwealth Games Federation is far more than the curator of a great Games.
"As a cornerstone of the Commonwealth itself, our dynamic sporting movement - driven by its values of humanity, equality and destiny - has a key role to play in an energised, engaged and active Commonwealth of Nations and Territories.
"And with new members joining, a hugely successful Gold Coast 2018 and preparations for Birmingham 2022 well underway, the Commonwealth is entering an era of renewed relevance.
"Every organisation and individual that works with us and supports us in our mission is part of the Commonwealth Sports Movement."
The CGF supports and highlights its three core values of humanity, equality and destiny. It hopes to promote fairness, non-discrimination and inclusion all year round.
The CGF also aims to combine high-level sport with performances that have "impact" - to help Commonwealth athletes, citizens and communities realise their aspirations and ambitions.
The three core values of the CGF uphold what has been part of the Commonwealth Charter since March 2013, and underpin decision-making on policies such as the Transformation 2022 strategy which was announced in 2015.
Transformation 2022 has four priority areas: innovative and inspirational Games, good governance and management, strong partnerships and a valued brand.
The Commonwealth Sports Movement continues to push for change in its nations and territories, and recognises minority groups through the Commonwealth Games Associations and its charity, the Commonwealth Sport Foundation.
Change and development through Commonwealth Sport
A survey conducted by Commonwealth Sport Canada found that 53 per cent of Canadian athletes who competed at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games went on to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Of the 22 medals won in Rio by Canadian athletes, 14 were earned by those who had competed in Glasgow.
There is a similar pattern emerging regarding young athletes who have used the Commonwealth Youth Games as a springboard to other competitions.
Hosting the Commonwealth Games could also serve as springboard to staging the Olympic Games. After the success of Gold Coast 2018, Brisbane and Queensland has now been declared as the preferred candidate for the 2032 Summer Games.
Away from sport, much of the activity within the Commonwealth Movement is aimed at addressing social issues.
More than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth's citizens are under 30. Many of the issues being actively addressed by the CGF seek to change the society in which they live, and which they will come to govern themselves.
Initiatives include focusing on the empowerment of women and girls, gender equity, youth leadership development and HIV and AIDS awareness.
After the Black Lives Matter movement came to prominence in 2020, the CGF has said athletes will not face punishment at the Birmingham 2022 Games for expressing activism.
Nations such as Australia and New Zealand have notable indigenous populations and, through the Commonwealth Sports Movement, have aimed for better social inclusion of these groups.
As part of the Commonwealth Sport Movement, the Commonwealth Sports Foundation was founded as a charitable foundation in the United Kingdom.
Different to other Games
The Commonwealth Games have become known for innovations, diversity and inclusion.
In 1930, a medal podium was used which was later copied by the Olympic Movement.
While the Olympic Movement works towards gender equality at its events, the Commonwealth Games has already become the world's first multi-sport event which includes an equal number of women's and men's medal disciplines.
This happened at Gold Coast 2018, with the Games coming a long way since 1930 when women competed in just seven - or 12 per cent - of the medal events.
At Birmingham 2022, thanks to the introduction of women's T20 cricket, more medals will be awarded to women than men.
Sharing Commonwealth membership are some of the world's largest and smallest countries and territories.
They range from India, with more than 1.2 billion people, to Niue with a population of 1,600.
Unlike organisations such as the United Nations, all countries and territories have an equal voice, no matter their size. Niue's voice is, in theory, equal to that of India.
The 1994 edition of the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, saw Para-athletes compete in exhibition events. At Manchester 2002, Para-athletes were fully integrated into their national teams, creating the first fully inclusive multi-sport international Games.
The Commonwealth Games created its own version of the Olympic Torch Relay ritual at the 1958 Games in Cardiff, called the Queen's Baton Relay.
This involves the transfer of a Baton carrying a message from Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace, via a sequence of Relay runners to the Opening Ceremony of the host country. It is then handed back to either The Queen or her representative, who opens it and reads the message.
The Gold Coast 2018 Baton Relay was the longest in Commonwealth Games history.
It covered 230,000 kilometres over 388 days, as the Baton made its way through the six Commonwealth regions of Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The Queen's Baton was also presented for the first time at the most recent Commonwealth Youth Games, which were held in The Bahamas in 2017.