Queen’s Baton Relay visits South Africa

0
367

11 February 2014

The Queen’s Baton Relay arrived in Johannesburg on Monday on the last leg of its African tour. It will spend five days in South Africa.

Similar to the Olympic torch relay, the Queen’s Baton Relay travels around the world prior to the Commonwealth Games. This time round it will visit 70 nations over 288 days, covering about 190 000 kilometres on its way to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

 

Message from the Queen

 

The relay left Buckingham Palace in London on 9 October, after Queen Elizabeth had placed a message to the Commonwealth in the heart of the baton. The message forms the visual core of the baton design and is illuminated from within by LED lights, but is unreadable until the opening ceremony in Glasgow on 23 July.

Within the baton is a granite “gemstone”, native to Scotland, which is gifted to each Commonwealth nation and territory. It can only be released by opening a clever puzzle mechanism.

On Monday, the baton was taken around Johannesburg accompanied by South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam, who was also acting in his capacity as the Commonwealth Games Federation’s vice-president.

 

‘Enormous symbolism’

 

British High Commissioner Judith McGregor was also on hand after joining the relay for the Swaziland and Lesotho legs. “The baton passed through places of tremendous historical importance and it has enormous symbolism, especially for the younger people,” McGregor said. “I’m delighted and proud to be with you here on behalf of the British government.”

At the Soweto Aquatics Centre, Sam and McGregor addressed school children from Orlando West High School. “Look at this baton very carefully,” Sam said. “When you watch this baton and its message being read out by the Queen on 23 July, you can say that you saw this baton when it came to South Africa.”

Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy said in a statement: “We welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to South Africa and it is a reminder of the importance of participating in the Commonwealth Games. As Sascoc, we celebrate our achievements in our 20-year democracy and we hope this inspires the youth to be great achievers.”

The 2014 Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow Scotland from 23 July to 3 August.

SAinfo reporter and South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committe