Queen’s Baton Relay arrives Nigeria, ahead 2022 Commonwealth Games

Barely a week after it was lit at the Buckingham Palace, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has received the Queen’s Baton Relay as it arrived in Nigeria as part of its tour of Africa, in preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo leading with the Queen’s Torch as Sports minister, Sunday Dare follows during the arrival of the symbol of the Commonwealth Games in Nigeria

The Queen’s Baton, which bears similarity with the Olympic torch, was received by a delegation from the United Kingdom in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sports Development, and Commonwealth Games Nigeria.

The Baton carries the goodwill message of Her Majesty, the Queen of England and Head of the Commonwealth on a 72-country journey, which will end at next summer’s Commonwealth Games.

It would be recalled that the Queen of England, Thursday, October 7, held her first major event at Buckingham Palace since the pandemic began, as she launched her Commonwealth Games 2022 baton on a global relay.

Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox was given the honour of taking the baton on the first leg of its 90,000-mile journey which will lead to the opening ceremony in the host city Birmingham.

The televised event in the palace forecourt was another step in the gradual return to normality following the upheavals of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Among the guests were Baroness Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sports minister Nigel Huddleston representatives from the Commonwealth Games Federation, grassroots sports organisations from the West Midlands, and athletes competing in the Games.

The Earl of Wessex joined the Queen in his role as vice patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, which she supports as patron.

A strand of platinum has been incorporated into the baton in recognition of the Queen’s 70-year reign, which will be celebrated next year, and it is packed with hi-tech gadgets for its journey to all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, including Nigeria, over 294 days.

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The Queen’s Baton Relay started with a special event held at Buckingham Palace in London as part of the city’s Commonwealth Day festivities.

Remarking, Professor Osinbajo said: ”I had the honour, while representing President Muhammadu Buhari, to receive the Queen’s Baton.”

According to him, the President said that; ‘that the docking of the relay baton in Nigeria reminded Commonwealth member countries of their brotherhood and friendship.’

“As the relay goes from one  Commonwealth member country to another in its country journey across several continents, the two billion strong population of the Commonwealth  are  reminded of the  strong bonds of brotherhood and friendship that bind us across these continents, nations, races, tongues and faiths.

“This joyful event will end at this time in Birmingham, the city which will host the games in 2022.”

President Buhari said that ”Nigerian Athletes would join their counterparts from other Commonwealth countries at the games, as their compatriots had done since 1950, when Joshua Majekodumi won Nigeria’s first medal, in the high jump event.

 “Since then our Athletes have won not less than 236 medals at the games! We are set to do much better in Birmingham,” Buhari said.

The President further added that the ‘relay team for their cheerfulness and dedication to this tour covering thousands of miles, the organising committees for all their hard work in seamlessly delivering this relay event and the Athletes who will bring excitement and thrill to millions at this festival of sport and culture.’

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On his part, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare said that the event signified unity, peace and love among the comity of nations, noting that Nigeria is the first African country to host the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Dare said: “The giant stride by both the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Birmingham 2022 Organiser in ensuring that the Queen’s Baton visits the 72 Commonwealth nations and territories to spread the goodwill message of the games to the sporting world community is highly commendable.

 “The Commonwealth Games itself has come of age and the Queen’s Baton is traversing the globe with an open invitation to elite athletes to converge in celebration of sports excellence in an environment of peace and friendship in Birmingham, United Kingdom.”

Dare noted that the Queen’s Baton Relay would tour 15 other African countries before leaving for Asia.

In her remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catariona Liang said the baton left the Buckingham Palace on October 7, 2021 with the spirit of the Commonwealth Games of humanity, equality and diversity.

“These games are very special because they represent our Commonwealth values,” she stated.

Liang said that two interesting facts would be remarkable at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“The first is that the disability agenda. The para Sports are going to be completely integrated; there are no separate para-games. So, if you win a medal it counts exactly the same.

“The other interested fact is that there is going to be more medals for women than men this time; 136 medals for women and 130 medals for men.  So, that’s good progress as well,’’ she explained.

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President of the Commonwealth Games Nigeria, Abu Gumel said that Baton would return on July 28, 2022 to the United Kingdom for the opening ceremony of the Birmingham Games, where the message inside would be read by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen’s Baton, which bears similarity with the Olympic torch, was received by a delegation from the United Kingdom in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Youth & Sports Development, and Commonwealth Games Nigeria.

Nigeria becomes the third nation to receive the Queen’s Baton after which it will continue its tour to 15 other African countries before proceeding to Asia.

According to reports, the 15 other African Countries are; The Gambia (October 16), Sierra Leone (October 23), Ghana (October 26), Cameroon (October 29), Kenya (November 2), Uganda (November 5), Rwanda (November 10), Tanzania (November 13), Malawi (November 17) and Zambia (November 20).

Also, Mozambique (November 23), Mauritius (November 27), Botswana (November 30), St. Helena (December 5), South Africa (December 8), Namibia (December 14), Eswatini (December 17), Lesotho (December 20) Seychelles (December 23).

The Queen’s Baton is expected to travel for 294 days, visiting all 72 nations and territories as well as connecting communities in every corner of the Commonwealth.

At the Opening Ceremony of the Games, which will be hosted in Birmingham, UK, from July 28, 2022, the final relay runner hands the baton back to the Queen or her representative, who reads the message aloud to officially open the Games. The will close on August 8, 2022.

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