I'm not a sports fan. Never have been. I don't get soccer or rugby, and I don't know the difference between Olympic pentathlons and triathlons. Which is a handicap in a country that loves its footy and cricket.
Still, I'm becoming reluctantly fascinated by the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which began yesterday in Queensland, Australia.
The Commonwealth in question is the Commonwealth of Nations, with 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire. They share a language, history, culture, and values such as free speech and respect for the rule of law. Australia is a member. The largest member is India, and the smallest is Tuvalu, a Polynesian island nation.
The Commonwealth Games began in 1930 and are held every four years, just like the Olympics. This year, more than 4500 athletes from 71 teams participate in 19 sports. The opening ceremony included the Queen's Baton Relay. Similar to the Olympic Torch's long journey, the Queen's Baton travelled from Buckingham Palace with a message from Queen Elizabeth, the Head of the Commonwealth, all the way to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where Prince Charles read the message to open the games.
Why do I care about the Commonwealth Games? They feel friendlier and more inclusive to me. Small island nations get the chance to compete on a world stage. Para athletic events run during the main program, and the medals are the same. And for the first time in the history of multisport games, men and women have an equal number of athletic events. Even the mascot — a surfing koala named Borobi — looks friendly.