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1986 Commonwealth Games

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Host city  Edinburgh, Scotland
Opening ceremony  24 July 1986
Athletes participating  1,660
Closing ceremony  2 August 1986
1986 Commonwealth Games
Nations participating  27 nations of the Commonwealth
Events  161 events in 10 sports

The 1986 Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh, Scotland, between 24 July and 2 August 1986. They were the second Games to be held in Edinburgh.



Unlike the 1970 Games in Edinburgh, which were popular and successful, the 1986 Games are ill-famed for the wide political boycott connected with them and the resulting financial mismanagement.


The majority of Commonwealth nations staged a boycott, so that the Games appeared to be a whites-only event. Thirty two of the eligible fifty nine countries—largely African, Asian and Caribbean states—stayed away because of the Thatcher government's policy of keeping Britain's sporting links with apartheid South Africa in preference to participating in the general sporting boycott of that country. Consequently, Edinburgh 1986 witnessed the lowest number of athletes since Auckland 1950. Bermuda was a particularly late withdrawal, as its athletes appeared in the opening ceremony and in the opening day of competition before the Bermuda Olympic Association decided to formally withdraw.


Further controversy arose when it was revealed that through this much-reduced participation and the resultant decline in anticipated broadcasting and sponsorship revenues, the Organising Committee was facing a big financial black hole. The boycott ended any prospect of securing emergency government assistance. Businessman Robert Maxwell stepped in to offer funding, taking over as chairman; but although he promised to invest £2m, his contribution was just £250,000. On a budget of £14m, the Games opened with a deficit of £3m, which later grew to £4.3m, and instead of putting enough money into the event to save it, the new chairman of the Games asked creditors to forgo half the payment due to them to keep the event out of liquidation. The debt was finally paid off in 1989, with the city of Edinburgh losing approximately £500,000.

Several participants were excluded because they breached the amateurism rules, most notably lawn bowlers Phil Skoglund from New Zealand and Willie Wood from Scotland, both of whom have competed in subsequent games.

Participating teams

27 teams were represented at the 1986 Games.
(Teams competing for the first time are shown in bold).

Opening ceremony

The theme of the opening ceremony celebrated the "Spirit of Youth" and included 6500 Scottish schoolchildren taking part in a series of large Mass Games-style Gymnastics routines. The theme song "Spirit of Youth" was written by Gerard Kenny. The ceremony began on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle from which hundreds of schoolchildren ran down the Royal Mile, through Holyrood Park to Meadowbank Stadium.


  • Meadowbank Stadium
  • Royal Commonwealth Pool
  • Strathclyde Park
  • Barry Buddon
  • Balgreen, Bowls
  • References

    1986 Commonwealth Games Wikipedia

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