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Feb 01, 22

Queen’s Baton Relay reaches 30th destination as tour of Asia draws to a close

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The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay has completed its journey through Asia, meaning the Baton has toured 30 out of the 72 Commonwealth nations and territories.

The Relay began on 7 October 2021 during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, where The Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. It has since travelled to Cyprus and Malta, 19 Commonwealth countries and territories in Africa, and most recently Asia with visits to Pakistan, The Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a long-standing tradition, which builds anticipation for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and aims to bring together communities from across the Commonwealth, in one collaborative journey.

While hosting the Baton, each Commonwealth Games Association stages an impressive schedule of events, which engages the youth of the country, showcases their local heroes who strive for change, and demonstrates one of their projects, which addresses at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In Pakistan, the Baton stopped at Kakri Ground, which featured performances of the lewa dance of Lyari and from the Pakistan Rangers Band. Children demonstrated their sporting abilities in boxing, cycling, football, and karate. Batonbearer Aqsa Dawood paraded the ground on a traditional donkey driven cart carrying the Baton.

The Baton was in the Maldives for New Year’s Eve. The arrival of the year of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was celebrated with an impressive firework display on the beach.

Environmental activist, Hashim Aboobakur took on the role of Batonbearer and took the time to speak to the community about the importance of maintaining the local eco system.

While in Sri Lanka, the Baton’s route stopped at Victoria Dam, the nation’s highest dam. The Baton was warmly welcomed at the landmark by a performance by Kandyan dancers. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, the first Sri Lankan to summit Mount Everest, represented her country as a Batonbearer.
During the journey through Bangladesh, the Queen’s Baton Relay visited the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP), the national sports institute. Here, students showcased their sporting skills in a variety of disciplines, such as boxing, sprinting, table tennis, hockey, and diving - all of which will feature in Birmingham 2022.

Ruman Shana, who was the first Bangladeshi national to win a medal in the World Archery Championships, carried the Baton in Bangladesh.

The Queen’s Baton Relay visited communities in Delhi, Bengaluru , and Bhubaneswar in India. The route through Delhi marked the first visit to a previous Commonwealth Games host nation and included a stop at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, where hockey matches were played during Delhi 2010.

In Bengaluru, the Relay visited Vidhana Soudha, an architecturally impressive building which houses the Legislative Chambers of the state government. The final day in India saw the Baton visit the Konark Sun Temple, close to Bhubaneswar, where local women welcomed the Baton with a performance of the Odissi dance. The day in Bhubaneswar marked the 100th day of the Relay so far.

While in India, the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) for Birmingham 2022 unveiled the first iteration of a digital mural which will grow as members of the Commonwealth contribute to it. The artwork includes words and images in response to the poem by spoken word artist Amerah Saleh, entitled “The Relaytionship”.University of Birmingham, official partner of the Queen’s Baton Relay, nominated Vinisha Umashankar, 15-year-old innovator, to take on the Baton in India. She recently spoke at COP26 about climate change and has earned recognition for inventing a mobile, solar-powered ironing cart.

The Baton arrived in Singapore at the Jewel Changi Airport, home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. From there, the Baton toured the island, including stops at Singapore Sports Hub, Merlion Park, and Chinatown.

The following day, activities were held at Marina Barrage, a reservoir which provides flood control and fresh-water storage. 26-year-old golfer Jen Goh proudly carried the Baton along the Singaporean route.

In Malaysia, local people demonstrated sports that are prominent in their culture, such as Gasing, which is similar to spinning tops, Wau, which is often compared to kite flying, as well as Silat, a martial art.

The Baton toured Kuala Lumpur, including stops at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), Victoria Fountain, which commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and the River of Life Project at Klang River. The scheme aims to rejuvenate the river and surrounding area, as well as make it into a community hub.

Samuel Isaiah represented his home country as a Batonbearer; he uses creative methods to engage with students from indigenous communities.

While in Malaysia, Longines, which is also an official partner of the Queen’s Baton Relay, presented their new limited-edition watch which is made from just 2,022 pieces, one of the several features that reflect Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The activities in Brunei Darussalam involved a tour of Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas, an eco-park, which is part of a project to revitalise the Kendayan River and its vicinity. Batonbearers walked along the river before embarking on a boat ride through Kampong Ayer, a water village. The settlement is built on stilts in the water and consists of houses, schools, and mosques. During the two-day visit, the Baton visited every district in Brunei (Temburong, Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait).

Samuel Isaiah, Malaysian Batonbearer and Top 10 Finalist for Global Teacher of the Year Award, said: “To be involved in the Queen’s Baton Relay has been a phenomenal experience, it’s not something I will ever forget. I’m so glad we had the chance to highlight my great country and our projects.”

Lisa Hampton, Head of the Queen’s Baton Relay, said: “I have been amazed at the extraordinary activities that all of these countries and nations have organised to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay. It has been a privilege to experience the different celebrations and cultures with them on the journey.

“It has been so special to experience different milestones of the Queen’s Baton Relay in Asia, such as celebrating going into 2022, the year of Games, and commemorating 100 Days of the Relay in India. The Commonwealth Games Associations have put in an incredible amount of effort to make these moments special.”

Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said: “The Queen’s Baton Relay has had an inspirational impact across our Asian Commonwealth nations and territories. The Baton has received a warm and vibrant welcome wherever it has been as excitement continues to grow for Birmingham 2022 across the region.

“It is incredible that the Baton has now visited 30 of our Commonwealth Games Associations. We are all now looking forward to an exciting next leg of the journey across Oceania with the Baton set to visit Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Nauru.”

Mr Chris Chan, Regional Vice President Asia, Commonwealth Games Federation and Secretary General, Commonwealth Games Association Singapore, said: “Contributing to the planning of Singapore’s route in the Queen’s Baton Relay has been such a prestigious project, I am honoured to have been involved.”

The Queen’s Baton Relay is progressing with its route around the Commonwealth and is now heading to Oceania. It has upcoming visits to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Nauru, the smallest island in the Commonwealth.

For more information on the Queen’s Baton Relay and to follow the Baton’s journey, visit qbr.birmingham2022.com

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