16th July 1970

The Commonwealth Games opens in Edinburgh

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, welcomed almost 1,400 athletes from 42 countries to Meadowbank Stadium for the ninth Commonwealth Games. Edinburgh had won the right to hold the games in 1966, after competing for the honour against Christchurch in New Zealand. Christchurch went on to host its own games four years later.

Notable firsts

The Edinburgh games were notable for introducing two important innovations. The first of these was the decision to use metric, rather than imperial measurements for all events, and the second was the use of photography to definitively rule on close finishes.

Athletes competed across nine disciplines and although England won the most medals, with its team taking home 84 in total, it only won 27 gold. Australia, which won 82 medals in total, won 36 gold, and therefore topped the leader board. Scotland won six gold medals and 25 medals in total.

Sailors protest

The day after the opening, the Aberdeen Press and Journal reported that “the Duke of Edinburgh faced a mini mutiny” when he became “the target of a protest about the disappearance of the Navy’s traditional rum ration, due to end on August 1.” The sailors had chanted “save our tot” as the Duke arrived, and after his speech.

However, this seems to have done little to spoil the event. The Birmingham Daily Post, of 17 July 1970, described how “to the inevitable swirl of the bagpipes, a nine-gun salute and fly-past of lightning jets, the ninth Commonwealth Games were officially declared open by the Duke of Edinburgh yesterday. It was a colourful, almost homely affair. Edinburgh’s £2,400,000 Meadowbank Stadium was a blaze of assorted tartans, lime green, shocking pinks, which brightened a dull, cheerless Scottish afternoon.”

Games’ legacy

The Games ended on 25 July, but their benefits continued to be felt. The Illustrated London News that day wrote that the city now had “a magnificent swimming pool; a passable stadium, whose only drawback is that athletes run most of their races slap into the vicious prevailing sea winds; a Games village which athletes say is better than any they have seen; a record take at the box office; a record number of countries competing; and a city which, ever so discreetly, is being seduced into carnival.”

Scotland would host the Commonwealth Games again in 2014; on that occasion in Glasgow.



Other events that occured in July

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