The 1986 Commonwealth Games ( gd|Geamannan a 'Cho-fhlaitheis 1986) were held in Edinburgh, Scotland, between 24 July and 2 August 1986. They were the second Games to be held in Edinburgh.


Unlike the 1970 Games in Edinburgh, which were popular and successful, the 1986 Games are ill-famed for the wide political boycott connected with them and the resulting financial mismanagement.


Further controversy arose when it was revealed that through this much-reduced participation and the resultant decline in anticipated broadcasting and sponsorship revenues, the Organising Committee was facing a big financial black hole. The boycott ended any prospect of securing emergency government assistance. Businessman Robert Maxwell stepped in to offer funding, taking over as chairman; but although he promised to invest £2m, his contribution was just £250,000. On a budget of £14m, the Games opened with a deficit of £3m, which later grew to £4.3m, and instead of putting enough money into the event to save it, the new chairman of the Games asked creditors to forgo half the payment due to them to keep the event out of liquidation. The debt was finally paid off in 1989, with the city of Edinburgh losing approximately £500,000. Several participants were excluded because they breached the amateurism rules, most notably lawn bowlers Phil Skoglund from New Zealand and Willie Wood from Scotland, both of whom have competed in subsequent Games.

Participating teams

Due to the boycott only 27 teams from across the Commonwealth were represented at the 1986 Games.


The majority of Commonwealth nations staged a boycott, meaning that the Games appeared largely to be a whites-only event. Thirty two of the eligible fifty nine countries, largely African, Asian and Caribbean states, stayed away because of the Thatcher government's policy of keeping Britain's sporting links with apartheid South Africa in preference to participating in the general sporting boycott of that country. Consequently, Edinburgh 1986 witnessed the lowest turnout since Auckland 1950. Bermuda was a particularly late withdrawal, as its athletes had appeared in the opening ceremony and in the opening day of competition before the Bermuda Olympic Association decided to formally withdraw.Fraser, Graham (25 April 2014)
Glasgow 2014: The Bermuda boycott of 1986 that still hurts
. BBC Sport. Retrieved on 2 November 2014.

Opening ceremony

The theme of the opening ceremony celebrated the "Spirit of Youth" and included 6500 Scottish schoolchildren taking part in a series of large Mass Games-style Gymnastics routines. The theme song "Spirit of Youth" was written by Gerard Kenny. The ceremony began on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle from which hundreds of schoolchildren ran down the Royal Mile, through Holyrood Park to Meadowbank Stadium.


* Meadowbank Stadium * Royal Commonwealth Pool * Strathclyde Park * Barry Buddon * Balgreen, Bowls

Medals by country

Medals by event







Track Road



Pistol Rifle Shotgun



See also

* 1970 Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh * 2014 Commonwealth Games, held in Glasgow.


External links

Commonwealth Games Official Site

– Australian Commonwealth Games Association official website
Video of the Opening Ceremony
{{Portal bar|Sports|1980s|Scotland Category:Commonwealth Games by year Commonwealth Games Commonwealth Games Category:Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom Category:1980s in Edinburgh Category:International sports competitions in Edinburgh Category:International sports boycotts Commonwealth Games Commonwealth Games