Her Majesty The Queen launches Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton on global journey which includes a Kiwi Christmas build-up.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has set the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay in motion during a star-studded commencement ceremony today at Buckingham Palace as part of Commonwealth Day celebrations.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Edward The Earl of Wessex, The Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth and its athletes inside the distinctive Baton.
The Queen’s Baton will now travel through the entire Commonwealth for 388 days, covering 230,000 kilometres to its final destination, the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) on 4 April 2018.
The Baton will arrive in New Zealand on 17 December, spending a week of the summer school holidays travelling around the country before picking up its Australian journey on 25 December, marking the 100 Days to go milestone.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO and Vice-President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Kereyn Smith was a member of Her Royal Highness’ party for the baton’s ceremonial send off.
Smith said she was honoured to have been part of the commencement ceremony.
“It was a moving celebration of sport and the unity and history that is shared by the peoples of the Commonwealth,” she said. “The baton’s send-off brought to life the excitement of the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“We’re looking forward to the baton arriving in New Zealand just in time for summer school holidays and the excitement of the Christmas build-up. We are making plans to involve as many people as possible on its journey around New Zealand.”
For the first time at a commencement ceremony at Buckingham Palace, representatives of the Traditional Custodians of the land where the Commonwealth Games will be held, the Yugambeh Language Group People, delivered a moving invitation to all First Nations peoples of the Commonwealth to join in the celebrations of the Games on Yugambeh land.
The invitation reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s 2017 theme of ‘A Peace-building Commonwealth’.
Smith said the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team at the Gold Coast games would look forward to building a relationship with the local Yugambeh people.
“Valuing our heritage and culture, as well as that of the people of the host nation is important to our team,” said Smith.
The New Zealand Commonwealth Games team to the Gold Coast 2018 is expected to number some 250 athletes competing in traditional Commonwealth sports including para-sports and, for the first time, beach volleyball and women’s rugby sevens.
The baton ceremony also featured high profile Australian Commonwealth Games athletes and was capped off in classic Australian style when the Baton departed the Palace in the hands of world-renowned Gold Coast singer and environmental champion Cody Simpson aboard a Kombi van loaded with surfboards.
The Queen’s Baton will take flight on 15 March to Sierra Leone, the first stop on the 288-day international journey to all nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie AC:
“Today’s ceremony was a moving start to what is going to be an inspiring journey. Our mission to share the dream of the Gold Coast 2018 Games with the world is now underway.
“This is a truly inclusive Relay and the Baton’s path through the Commonwealth will give children and people that can’t make it to the Gold Coast a chance to be involved in an unforgettable experience.
“By the time the Baton reaches Australia many thousands of people will already have been a part of its journey. And I urge all Australians to join in the festivities. Being a Batonbearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay is a unique opportunity to be involved in GC2018.”
Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin CBE:
“Launching the Queen’s Baton Relay on Commonwealth Day at Buckingham Palace is a fitting start to an inclusive and inspiring community relay that connects our diverse Commonwealth in celebration and anticipation of the next Games.
“We passionately believe that friendly rivalry on the level playing field of sport can be a tool for building strong and peaceful communities and this has never been more relevant, as the Relay launch heralds the start of the Commonwealth family’s themed year of a peace-building Commonwealth.
“Her Majesty's message to the Commonwealth and its athletes, carried safely inside the Baton, will be in great hands with many thousands of community batonbearers. I look forward to following its remarkable journey and hearing the stories of all the athletes, communities and citizens involved.”Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games