During the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, two cities initially expressed interest in hosting the event; Melbourne, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington withdrew its bid, citing the costs involved with matching the bid plan presented by Melbourne, which became the default host without members of the Federation going to vote.
Despite not having to build major infrastructure the cost was estimated to be over $1 Billion (AUD). Two AFL venues, the MCG and Docklands Stadium were part of the bid. The MCG would be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics. Docklands would host the Rugby 7s.
In late-2002, work commenced on demolition of the Ponsford and Olympic Stands, along with the Members Pavilion, to make way for three new conjoined grandstands that encompass the entire northern side of the stadium. The redevelopment was completed in time for the Commonwealth Games which began on 15 March and ended on 26 March 2006.
Queens Baton Relay
The Queen’s baton travelled more than 180,000 kilometres and visited all 71 nations of the Commonwealth in one year and one day. This was a world first, as no Games relay has ever visited all member nations. This makes the Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton Relay the world’s longest, most inclusive relay.
The Queen’s Birthday annual issue was released on the 10 May 2005. The stamp included the Commonwealth Games Logo and the Prestige Booklet showed a photograph of the Queen examining the baton. The Queen’s Baton Relay PNC with the Birthday Stamp was released on the 28 October 2005.
Several AFL Players and personalities were part of the relay. The initial seven covers were produced by First Class Collectables and the second Gavin Wanganeen by CoversPlease
The stamp on the covers is the logo stamp which was issued on the 12 January 2006. They are postmarked with one of the twenty Baton relay postmarks from all over Australia.
Some other players were involved in the Baton Relay.
It culminated in a magnificent finale at the Opening Ceremony.
The baton journeyed down the Yarra River in the hands of the 16 Australian Football League captains.
It was handed to football legend Ron Barassi, who after walking on water, handed the batonto Olympic great Herb Elliott. After entering the joyous stadium, the baton travelled around the stadium in the hands of athletic champions Catherine Freeman, Ron Clarke and Marjorie Jackson-Nelson. The baton was presented to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II by the Governor of Victoria, and former Olympian, John Landy.
The seating capacity of the stadium during the games was 80,000. A total of 47 events were contested, of which 24 by male and 23 by female athletes. Furthermore, three men’s and three women’s disability events were held within the programme. All athletics events took place within the Melbourne Cricket Ground, while the marathon and racewalking events took place on the streets of Melbourne and finished at the main stadium.
The hosts Australia easily won the medals table with 16 golds and 41 medals in total. Jamaica came second with 10 golds and 22 medals, while Kenya and England were the next best performers. A total of eleven Games records were broken over the course of the seven-day competition. Six of the records were broken by Australian athletes.
Gold Medal Winners at the MCG
The Closing Ceremony
Again AFL football was prominent. During the performance under 18 TAC Cup Australian rules football players, accompanied by several contemporary key figures of the sport entered through a banner, running out into formation. Ballerinas dressed in club colours followed.
The Sydney Morning Herald sums it up:
“The crowd screams as a footy banner appears at the side of the arena, with scores of leading AFL footballers running onto the arena to kick the footy around……… The band then moves on to a ballad, Better Off Alone, coinciding with ballerinas coming onto the ground wearing tutus in AFL team colours. According to the program guide, it’s a tribute to Melbourne’s two great loves — football and the arts.”