On 7 October 2021, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty The Queen commenced the Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Games, the 16th of its kind, after placing a written message inside the Baton.
The Relay is a tradition of the Commonwealth Games, first introduced at the 1958 Games in Cardiff, and, much like an Olympic torch travelling the host country, involves a specially-designed baton travelling the globe, visiting all 72 nations of the Commonwealth in time for the start of the Games. For this year’s Relay, the journey is 90,000 miles and will take 294 days to complete. More than 7,500 Baton-bearers, from a range of nationalities, ages and sporting abilities, are involved and each have the opportunity to carry the Baton a short distance.
The British Paralympian Kadeena Cox was this year’s first Baton-bearer, having been handed the Baton by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The Relay then went on to Cyprus on 9 October, and Malta on 12 October. Further along the Relay, the Baton will spend Christmas in the Seychelles, bring in the New Year in the Maldives, spend Easter in Jamaica and conclude with England for the final 25 days. Where better? The final Baton-bearer will then return it to the Queen at the opening ceremony in Birmingham on 28 July 2022 and Her Majesty will read out the message she initially placed inside the Baton.
In previous years, there have been exceptions to certain aspects of the Relay. For instance, in 1974, it began at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate rather than Buckingham Palace, as is customary, meanwhile in 1970, it began in Northern Canada, off English soil altogether. Furthermore, it wasn’t until the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia that the Relay incorporated nations aside from just England and the host country; the Relay for the 2018 Games in Gold Coast is the first and, aside from Birmingham, the only one to have visited all 72 nations. However, the 2022 Relay has been made almost half the distance of 2018 in a bid to reduce carbon emissions resulting from the Relay.