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Commonwealth Games

Last modified: 2013-11-28 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: british empire | commonwealth of nations | commonwealth games | international organization |
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New Commonwealth Games Flag 
image by Dean Thomas, 7 August 2002



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Origin of the flag and seal

The Commonwealth Games Federation changed their seal in early 2001. According to the CGF Brand Standards Manual, the components of the new seal are described thus: The Commonwealth Games' identity, the Bar, visually represents the Games' effort to raise the bar of sport for all humanity. As such, a strong horizontal bar forms the key element in the Commonwealth Games Mark. The Bar is supported on either end by two broad, hemispheric strokes, and in the centre by three converging points, which represent the trinity of ideals the Games embraces: Humanity, Equality, and Destiny. Together, the forms create a mark that is at once powerful and subtle, a beautifully timeless graphic representation of the Commonwealth Games.
New Commonwealth Games Federation Seal
As the previous Ceremonial Flag was based on the old seal design, a new flag had to be created to reflect the new emblem. The new flag was used for the first time at the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England (25 July to 4 August, 2002).
(Source: Commonwealth Games Federation )
Dean Thomas,
17 May 2002

There has been a bot of coming and going about the flag at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester so I thought I would clear up the mystery.
The flag raised at the opening ceremony was indeed the wrong design, showing the complete seal of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on the flag. I suspect this error came about because the complete seal is what is used everywhere else in dressing the games. It appears on almost every item or building. This was a new flag introduced at these games, so no-one had any experience of what is SHOULD look like to spot the mistake.
After the ceremony the flag was moved to the flagpole that had flown the Royal Standard. This was the same flag as use din the ceremony. The perception that it was changed the next morning may have been caused by the fact that there are TWO CGF flags flying in the stadium. Apart from the ceremonial flag (which is 6ft x 12ft) there is a "look" flag. "Look" flags are the flags that dress the stadium and other venues and show only those nations that are competing at that venue (apart from the stadium that shows everyone's). In addition to the national flags there is a "protocol set" that precedes them: the CGF flag, the English flag and the flags of the various sporting federations. In the case of the stadium the CGF flag in the protocol set was the correct emblem-only design.
For the closing ceremony a new CGF flag was made that was the correct emblem-only design. This is what was lowered and handed to the Melbourne representative.
I still believe that this flag is weak and needs some redesign to make it work. When hanging (as it tends to do in a closed-off stadium) it just looks like a piece of white cloth.

Falkland Islands and Cayman Islands
On the Commonwealth Games national flags, this was the first time that the "large badge - no disc" version of the Falklands and Cayman Islands were used and I think they looked great (even if I do say so myself). This was not a mistake - it was agreed with the two countries, and if you looked at the swimming caps of the competitors you would have seen the same style flag on the side.

Vertical Flags
For those interested in vertical flags, the following Commonwealth countries have special vertical flags, or vary from the usual rotate and flip: British Virgin Islands (arms rotate), Montserrat (arms rotate), Dominica (parrot rotates), Swaziland (spears point upwards), Pakistan (crescent and star rotates), Namibia (sun goes in the top-right corner, so just rotates), Cyprus (map reads correctly, so just rotates).
It was a very interesting experience being the "flag person" for such a huge event. I've learnt lots of lessons, such as how to make those indoor trapeziums work in a simple and elegant fashion, the sheer complexity of organizing the right flags for several hundred victory ceremonies, and not to use 6ft x 12ft flags for victory ceremonies in the main stadium even if the broadcasters do say they look better - they are just too big for the flag raisers to cope with elegantly.
Graham Bartram, 04 August 2002

I think restoring the red-white-blue-white bordure compony would help. But then I would also restore the imperial crown, as on the medals. I didn't much like the old ceremonial flag - I thought the oval chain was ugly compared to the pentagonal or even a circular one - but the new flag to me seems like a meaningless corporate logo. Incidentally, I notice the imperial crown on the medals was a Tudor  crown. I assume that keeping the crown on the medals while getting rid of it on the seal and flag was some sort of compromise struck by some committee somewhere, but why use a crown that has been out of date for half a century?
Andrew Yong, 05 August 2002

New Commonwealth Games Federation Flag
image by Eugene Ipavec, 25 March 2006

This flag was seen in use at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
A.P. Burgers, 23 March 2006


History

The Emblem and flag of the Commonwealth Games has undergone several evolutions, due to the changing of the name of the Games:

1930-1952:    British Empire Games
1954-1966:    British Empire and Commonwealth Games
1966-1974:    British Commonwealth Games
1974-2001:    Commonwealth Games (First Flag Variant)
2002-now:     Commonwealth Games (New Flag Variant)


The Previous Commonwealth Games Ceremonial Flag and Seal (1978-1998)

Commonwealth Games Flag 1978-1998  image by Dean Thomas, 4 March 1998

This flag was first used at a Commonwealth Games at the XI Games at Edmonton, Canada (1978), and for the last time at the XVI Games at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1998).
Commonwealth Games Seal 1974-2001
The Seal differed from the Ceremonial Flag only in that the chain was laid out in a pentagonal configuration. This configuration represented the five geographical regions of the world where the member nations of the Commonwealth are located.
Dean Thomas, 21 May 2002


Local flag of 1978 Commonwealth Games (Edmonton, Alberta)

Edmonton Commonwealth Games flag, 1978 image by Darrell Neuman

Edmonton hosted the 11th Commonwealth Games in August 1978 which were officially opened by the Queen. This is the flag of these Games.
Darrell Neuman, 1 May 2006


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