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Mar 03, 22

The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay reaches halfway point

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The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay has now completed half of its journey to all 72 nations and territories in the Commonwealth.

The Baton spent its 147th day in Niue, a Pacific Island in Oceania, which marked the halfway point through its journey.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a tradition that celebrates, connects, and excites communities from across the Commonwealth during the build up to the Games. It officially began on 7 October when Her Majesty The Queen placed her Message to the Commonwealth into the Baton.

The Relay will officially come to an end in 147 days at the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony on 28 July, when the Queen or her representative, will read out her Message to the Commonwealth.

During a visit from the Baton, Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) host a busy schedule of events and activities that aim to tell the untold stories of communities, through local heroes, whilst showcasing landmarks, and highlighting projects that addresses at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Most recently, the Queen’s Baton Relay has been visiting the Pacific Islands in Oceania. In Fiji, Batonbearers took part in a coral planting activity as part of a global conservation initiative, led by hotels and resorts in Fiji in partnership with governments, private industries and conservation organizations. The initiative aims to protect coral reefs through coral planting opportunities, beach clean-ups and other activities to support the health of the ocean. Team Fiji’s Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022, Sale Sorovaki, was among the Batonbearers to take the plunge and plant coral.

Fijian Batonbearers Jerry Tuwai, and Rusila Nagasau, respectively silver and bronze medallists at Gold Coast 2018, handed the Baton over to His Excellency the President of Fiji, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere. The Baton was then received at the British High Commissioner’s residence from para-athlete, Leslie Tikotikoca.

While in Papua New Guinea, the Baton visited Kambaramba, a village built entirely on stilts in the Sepik River. This way of living has allowed generations of families to live in the area, without exploiting the natural environment. Bradley Simon, Sports Project Officer to Hon Governor Allan Bird’s Office and former Agmark Gurias rugby league team member, represented his community as one of the nation’s Batonbearers.

The Baton was also taken to Unity Square in the Solomon Islands, which is home to the biggest flag and tallest flagpole in the Pacific region.
In Samoa, the Baton visited a celebration of sport at Samoa Cricket Oval. It also visited Mount Vaea, which serves as the final resting place of Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish writer whose notable works include Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Samoan Athletes El Shaddai Eniata, Jireh Westerlund, Johnny Key, Jirhel Levy, William Hunt, and Esau Masina all carried the Baton on Mount Vaea.

The Baton visited Captain Cook’s Landing Place in Tonga, which marks the location where Captain James Cook came ashore to the island in 1777. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited and commemorated the location with a plaque in 1970. Tongan athlete Ronald Fotofili and sprinter Siueni Filimone represented Tonga as Batonbearers during the visit.

While visiting the world’s smallest island nation, Nauru, the Baton visited all 14 of the island’s districts, where local members of the communities had hand painted signs to welcome the Baton’s arrival. The Baton was also taken to the Nauru Museum, which is home to the first ever Nauruan flag. 18-year-old Nauruan weightlifter, Nancy Abouke was honoured to bear the Baton on home soil.

Batonbearers in Vanuatu took on extreme modes of transport with Benneth Malas ziplining 300m, another rode a quad bike, while a third went horseback riding with the Baton. Another Batonbearer crossed the Vanuatu Sky Bridge, 65m above a canyon, while carrying the Baton.

In Niue, the Baton visited Matapa Chasm, which is known locally as the King’s Bathing Hole as it used to be frequented by Niue Royalty. The chasm has a rich marine life and is home to many tropical species of crabs and crayfish.

In the final 147 days, the Baton is set to continue its journey in Oceania, with upcoming visits to more islands in the Pacific Ocean and New Zealand, where the Baton will celebrate Commonwealth Day, before travelling on to Australia.

Following visits to the remaining Pacific Islands and CGA’s in Oceania, the Baton will visit the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe, before finally returning home to England on 4 July, where the Baton will spend 25 days visiting cities, towns, and communities across the country.

Jerry Tuwai, Fiji Sevens team member and Batonbearer, said: “I felt so privileged to be one of the first Batonbearers in Fiji to take on the Relay and represent my country during the Queen’s Baton Relay. It is an amazing feeling to take part in such an important journey.”

Maru Talagi, President of Niue Island Sports and Commonwealth Games Association said: “It is such an honour to have been able to host the Queen’s Baton Relay during its landmark celebration of being halfway through its journey. I have enjoyed seeing the Relay so far and I am excited to see how the remaining countries and territories welcome the Baton.”

Lisa Hampton, Head of the Queen’s Baton Relay, said: “Being halfway through the Queen’s Baton Relay is such an incredible landmark to reach. This is bigger than just the numbers, it’s about the remarkable individuals we’ve met as Batonbearers, and the captivating stories told from communities visited that are testament to the success of this journey so far. I have been constantly amazed by the activities and events that the Commonwealth Games Associations have organised to celebrate the arrival of the Baton in each nation and territory. They have managed to make the Relay such a special experience for everyone around the Commonwealth to watch and enjoy with them.

“I am really looking forward to each of the remaining 147 days and to get to know each remaining Commonwealth nation and territory through the Queen’s Baton Relay.”

Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said: “It is amazing that the Queen’s Baton Relay has now completed half of its journey across the 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. The Baton has received a warm and vibrant welcome from our Commonwealth Games Associations, whilst creating huge excitement and anticipation for Birmingham 2022. We are all now looking forward to the second half of the journey as the Baton continues to provide hope and inspiration on route to the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony on 28 July.”

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

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