The Commonwealth Games, sometimes known as the Friendly Games, are an international multi-sport event that takes place every four years and is competed in by athletes from countries who are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first organised for the first time in 1930, and ever since then, with the exception of the years 1942 and 1946 when it was postponed owing to World War II, it has been conducted regularly once every four years. Between the years 1930 and 1950, the event was known as the British Empire Games; between 1954 and 1966, it was known as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games; and between 1970 and 1974, it was known simply as the British Commonwealth Games. Since 2002, the Commonwealth Games have been the first international multi-sport event to include athletes with disabilities as full members of their respective country teams, making them the first completely inclusive international multi-sport competition. The Games were the first worldwide multi-sport event to offer an equal number of events for men and women competing for medals in the year 2018, and now, four years later, they are the first global multi-sport event to have more events for women than they do for men.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is in charge of organising the competitions and deciding which cities will play host to the games. The international sports federations (IFs), the Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs), and the organising bodies for each individual Commonwealth Games make up the games movement. Certain rituals, such as the raising of the flag representing the Commonwealth Games and the passing of the Queen's Baton during the Relay, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, are exclusive to the Games. At the most recent Commonwealth Games, approximately 4,500 competitors participated in 25 different sports and over 250 different medal events. These sports included both Olympic and Paralympic sports as well as sports that are common in Commonwealth nations, such as bowls and squash. In most competitions, gold, silver, and bronze medals are given out to the first, second, and third place finishers, respectively, in each category. There are 72 Commonwealth Games Associations, despite the fact that there are only 56 countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. They are separated into six different areas: Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Each of these regions performs a role that is analogous to that of the National Olympic Committees in respect to the nations or territories that fall under its jurisdiction. In certain countries, like as India and South Africa, the CGA tasks are handled by the respective nation's network operations centres (NOCs). 15 of the CGAs that are participating in the Commonwealth Games do not send their delegations independently from the Olympic, Paralympic, and other multisport competitions. Thirteen of these CGAs are linked to the British Olympic Association, one is a part of the Australian Olympic Committee, and another one is a part of the New Zealand Olympic Committee as their Paralympic counterparts. This is one of the ways in which the Commonwealth Games differ from other multisport events.
There have been a total of 20 host cities among nine nations (including England, Scotland, and Wales as three different countries). The Commonwealth Games have been held in Australia a total of five times (1938, 1962, 1982, 2006, and 2018; the next edition will take place in 2026), which is more times than any other country has hosted the event. Auckland (1950 and 1990) and Edinburgh (more than once) are the only cities to have hosted the Commonwealth Games more than once (1970, 1986).
Only six countries—Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales—have competed in every single Commonwealth Games. Out of these six, Australia, England, Canada, and New Zealand are the only ones to have won a minimum of one gold medal in each Games they have participated in. For thirteen iterations of the Games, Australia has been the team with the greatest overall performance, followed by England with seven and Canada with one. These same three teams also sit atop the all-time medal tally at the Commonwealth Games in this same sequence.
Birmingham played host to the 22nd Commonwealth Games, which took place between the 28th of July and the 8th of August in 2022. Since the next Commonwealth Games are slated to take place in four different locations throughout the state of Victoria in Australia from the 17th to the 29th of March 2026, they will be the first games in the history of the event to be staged in a manner that is decentralised.