No fewer than 6,600, athletes and team officials from 71 countries are expected to take part in 275 events at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to April 15.
According to a statement by Director Media and Public Relations, Commonwealth Secretariat, Barnie Choudhury, on Wednesday in Abuja, the competition would for the first time have equal number of events for women and men.
Choudhury said sport would play a starring role in Australia with a major Commonwealth ministerial conference taking place a day before the Games in Gold Coast.
According to him, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, will chair the ministerial meeting before attending the opening ceremony of the Games.
“She will also participate in Gold Coast’s Trade 2018 initiative and the Women of the World festival in Brisbane.
“The 9th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting will be held in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia on April 3rd.
“Governments will focus on collective action to measure the contribution of sport to development objectives in areas such as health, education, economic improvement and community.
“In addition, ministers are expected to discuss how to improve links between government and sporting organisations,” he said.
He said that the ministers would also consider ways to embed a rights-based approach in government sport policy, for example ensuring sport is free from abuse and discrimination, and tackle sport integrity threats such as doping and match-fixing.
He quoted Scotland as saying “the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting further demonstrates our work in harnessing the role of sport as a development tool.
“This is supported by strengthened governance, sport integrity and the protection of human rights in sport, towards more inclusive and sustainable development.
“Sport is a valuable asset, making an important contribution to strengthening the economic, social and cultural bonds of our growing Commonwealth family. The reach and impact of the Commonwealth Games exemplifies this.”
The media officer added that in addition to the ministerial meeting and Games, the Commonwealth was also supporting a ‘pop up Commonwealth House’ initiative led by the governments of Queensland and Gold Coast.
“Commonwealth House will host business events to promote investment opportunities and establish international partnerships, with the aim of developing new supply chains across the 53 member countries.
“The venue will also play host to the third annual Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development on 6 April 2018.
“The debate will feature panelists including St Lucia’s Minister of Culture and Local Government Fortuna Belrose and two-time ju-jitsu world champion Shantelle Thompson,” Choudhury said.
He also quoted the Commonwealth’s Head of Sport for Development and Peace, Oliver Dudfield, as saying “the Commonwealth debate has become a leading global policy discussion on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
“This year, the debate topic is ‘Sport pays for itself in the Commonwealth” and will consider how the return from investing in sport can be enjoyed by more people and more communities across the Commonwealth.”
He said that Secretary-General Patricia Scotland was expected to deliver the concluding speech at gold coast’s ‘Trade 2018’ initiative.
“This will include a preview of the trade research that will be presented at the April Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The ‘2018 Commonwealth Trade Review’ magazine will also be launched at the event.
“Following her visit to the Games, the Secretary-General will attend the ‘Women of the World’ festival in Brisbane.
“The festival, which runs from April 6 to April 8, will focus on the achievements and challenges of women and girls in the Commonwealth,” said.
Nigeria will present 90 athletes and 45 officials at the games. Nigeria will feature in 10 events, including Athletics, Basketball, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Para table tennis, Para Athletics, Para Powerlifting.
A breakdown of the contingent shows that wrestling will be represented by six male and six female athletes, who will depart for Australia tomorrow to continue preparations for the games.
Weightlifting will feature four athletes, two men and two women, but athletics has the largest contingent with 37 stars,including 17 men and 20 women.
Three medals prospects, including Divine Oduduru and gymnast, Uche Eke will not be at the championship due to academic commitments, among others.