By Constantinos Psillides
TOP Cypriot athletes will take part in the ‘Queen’s Baton Relay’ scheduled to take place on May 5 and 6, according to the chairman of Cyprus Olympic Committee Ouranios Ioannidis.
The event is always held prior to the beginning of the Commonwealth Games that will this year take place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3.
According to Ioannidis, Cyprus will be the 60th country globally and the first European one that will welcome the baton.
The baton is scheduled to arrive on Sunday at 6.15pm at Larnaca International Airport and will be carried through Paphos, Limassol, Paralimni and finally Nicosia.
Athletes carrying the baton will cover a 2-3 km distance each. Ioannidis said that the baton would be carried by athletes that won medals in Olympic, Commonwealth and Mediterranean Games
In his brief speech, the British High Commissioner Matthew Kidd said that Commonwealth Games was a major sporting event which highlights the importance and value of team spirit.
Cyprus has competed in seven Commonwealth Games, making its first appearance in 1978, and missing only one event since, in 1986. Cypriot athletes have won twenty Commonwealth medals, most of them in shooting.
The baton carries a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
The relay traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London as a part of the city’s Commonwealth Day festivities.
The Queen entrusts the baton to the first relay runner and at the Opening Ceremony of the Games, the final relay runner hands the baton back to the Queen or her representative, who reads the message aloud to officially open the Games.
The relay was introduced at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales.
The baton goes through 70 countries before arriving at it destination, the host nation of the Commonwealth Games.
The baton will leave Cyprus and be taken to Malta, then Gibraltar and finally the UK.
This year’s relay will cover a distance of 190,000 kms before reaching Glasgow.
The Opening Ceremony will take place at Celtic Park, Glasgow, on Wednesday July 23.