Queen’s Baton passes through Cayman

| 17/07/2017
CNS Local Life

Sandra Osborne of the Commonwealth Games Federation shows Queen’s Baton to Don McLean, president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee

(CNS Local Life): The Queen’s Baton, travelling the world on a relay which culminates in opening next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia, arrived in Cayman on Friday, 14 July, with stops while here that include Government House, Pedro St James, Stingray City and Barkers Beach. The baton is making the rounds on the Sister Islands today (17 July) before heading to the Bahamas tomorrow for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Members of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC) were on hand at Owen Roberts International Airport to welcome the contingent transporting the baton, which carries a message from Queen Elizabeth II.

Mark Peters, CEO of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation, explained the significance of the baton’s journey which, upon completion, will have travelled 230,000 km (about 143,000 miles) over 388 days, stopping in Commonwealth countries along the way. This will mark the longest journey of the baton in the history of the Games. Due to the very long haul of the trip, there are actually two crews that accompany the baton, with the groups swapping travel duties every five or six weeks.

Peters explained that, unlike the torch relays of the Olympics with runners simply passing by spectators, the baton is shared with the people of each country. He said it goes to tourism attractions and to schools, where people hear “about what the baton represents and what the Commonwealth represents”.

“The whole concept is as many people touch the baton as possible and the whole design around it changes colours when you do it. So, it’s a celebration. In a lot of ways it’s like the Queen’s come to town.”

Each host country designs its own baton. Kari Elgar, responsible for public relations for the relay, pointed out the meaning of the Australian baton, saying there are three design elements, representing that country’s past, present and future. The baton includes a section made from macadamia wood, which is indigenous to the Gold Coast; a stainless steel band, along which are engraved three-letter codes of every country visited on this tour; and a “leading edge” created from reclaimed plastic, as a reminder “to think about a sustainable future and about overconsumption and the way we use goods”, she said.

Elgar described the “heart of the baton” as the Queen’s message, which the monarch herself placed there at Buckingham Palace on 13 March, Commonwealth Day. “There’s one baton, one message and it travels through the hands of thousands of people across the Commonwealth,” she said.

The final stop for the baton is the opening ceremony of the Games on 4 April 2018. “When the baton arrives, there’s a whole lot of fanfare when it comes into the stadium,” Peters said. “At that point, either the Queen or her representative will remove the message and read it aloud.”

He added, “It welcomes the athletes and officially opens the Games. That’s a pretty important milestone.”

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