As the year draws to a close, the Commonwealth Games Federation reflects and celebrates the achievements of 2023.
There have been many areas to celebrate this year including our members being able to gather in person for the first time since 2019 to discuss and shape the future of the Movement. The Regional Meetings, took place across all six continents in May and were swiftly followed in June with the launch of ‘Commonwealth United’, our new Strategic Plan 2023-2034 to guide the organisation for the next decade. A collaborative, engaging consultation process with athletes, CGAs, Games Hosts, International Federations and wider stakeholders, including prospective Hosts and strategic partners enabled the development of the Plan. At its heart is our bold new vision - ‘Our Commonwealth, united through sport’ - a powerful, clear and succinct ambition. The Plan will guide development and drive growth over the next ten years, enabling the CGF’s long-term mission to deliver inspirational and impactful Games, excite and empower athletes and young people and drive equality in sport and society across the Commonwealth. Importantly, we remain absolutely committed to using sport as a mechanism to connect communities across the Commonwealth and drive advocacy and legacy.
Commonwealth United features a renewed focus on youth, and the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games certainly delivered on that commitment. At the heart of these exuberant and compelling Games, were the achievements and triumphs of the participants; accomplishments that were underscored by the dedication and commitment of the athletes, their coaches, and support from family and friends, as well as the excellent competition facilities on the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
The 99 medal events delivered nail biting finishes and enthralling competition. While Australia finished top of the medal table, a total of 28 nations returned home with medals. Amongst the trail-blazing athletes who set the global stage alight were the individual and team record breakers. In total, 20 existing Commonwealth Youth Games records were shattered by these outstanding young athletes - seven records were set in the pool and 13 in the athletic disciplines. Local favourite, Nikoli Blackman raised the roof of the pool with his three gold medal winning swims, while Scotland clinched their first ever team medal, a gold, at a Commonwealth Games or Commonwealth Youth Games in Rugby Sevens. As an organisation we are deliberately and proudly inclusive, so it was particularly special, when Destiny Agbo of Nigeria, made history winning the first ever Para gold medal at a Commonwealth Youth Games in the Women's discus F42-44 / F61-64. Destiny was one of many GAPS athletes participating at Trinbago 2023.
Off the field of play, who can forget the spectacular, carnival-style opening ceremony, bursting with energy and noise. Or the closing beach party celebration, full of colour, music and dancing. If you missed any of the action then catch up on the highlights in the Video Hub.
Heading into the last quarter of the year, our members were once again able to come together at the General Assembly hosted in Singapore, where we gathered to review activity, share ideas and drive progress.
We kicked off the General Assembly week by announcing a new tranche of funding for our Game Changers initiative, which aims to transform lives and communities through the power of sport and shared Commonwealth values. Launched in July 2020, Game Changers has been a force for positive change across our CGAs, focusing on smaller projects that contribute to a larger vision of social change through sport, with new applicants being asked to submit projects that support athletes in advocating for projects they believe in, under the theme ‘Athletes Voice’. To date, grants have been given to support projects from supplying clean water in Sri Lanka, to establishing a Basketball Art School in Namibia.
Building on the success of Trinbago 2023, we then announced that the host selection process for the eighth Commonwealth Youth Games will commence in early 2024. The announcement generated excitement, with an unprecedented number of CGAs expressing keen interest in hosting the next Youth Games. We were also honoured to be joined by His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh, Vice Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, who met leaders of CGAs from across the Commonwealth.
A further highlight of the General Assembly was the approval by acclamation of the Commonwealth Sport Declaration on Reconciliation and Partnership with Indigenous Peoples. This historic document outlines ten impactful actions aimed at addressing truth and reconciliation through sports, and honouring the culture, heritage, and experiences of Indigenous Peoples within the Commonwealth. In addition, we welcomed the nations of Gabon and Togo as new members of the CGF family, bringing the total number of our member nations and territories to 74, the highest it has ever been.
Of course, it is impossible to look back on 2023, without addressing the withdrawal of the State of Victoria as Host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Whilst this was surprising and incredibly disappointing, we are a resilient, committed and innovative Movement. The CGF is continuing to work around the clock to secure a new host who would be able to step in at such short notice and work is continuing at pace, with discussions taking place across multiple regions. We recognise that timeframes are tight and are committed to providing greater clarity in early 2024.
As a Movement, we are always discussing how we can best innovate - it is a strategic priority in Commonwealth United - and we continue to explore new models and concepts for hosting and developing future Games. As we move forward, we will build a sustainable model to attract host cities, re-modelling the Games, reducing the costs of hosting and exploring innovative solutions which allow more countries to host. We will also continue to work to raise the profile of Commonwealth Sport, always ensuring all voices are heard.
The CGF would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support of the Commonwealth Sport Movement and wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a successful 2024.