The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has unveiled the design of The Queen’s Baton and details of the international route for the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay - a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across the Commonwealth during the build-up to the Games.
The Relay begins on 7 October 2021 at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will place Her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. The Baton then takes on an incredible 294-day journey through all nations and territories of the Commonwealth, arriving back in England in July 2022.
The Baton was conceived in an innovative West Midlands collaboration that fuses art, technology, and science. Product designers and engineers Raymont-Osman Product Design, design and development specialists Kajul, both based in Warwickshire, along with Coventry-based MAOKWO, headed up by artist Laura Nyahuye, each injected their creativity and expertise into the Baton. The technology within the Baton is the work of BOM (Birmingham Open Media), a leading centre for art, technology and science in central Birmingham, dedicated to ‘creative innovation with purpose.’
Influenced by her Zimbabwean heritage, artistic skills, activism and community engagement work, Laura brings her passion for tactile and non-precious materials, coupled with the influence of young voices, and lived experiences to the design of the Baton. Using a multi-medium approach, Laura and a team of young creatives at MAOKWO explored themes of the meaning of the Commonwealth, sustainability, the strength and fortitude of women within Commonwealth communities, which has directly influenced the Baton’s design and concept.
The Baton champions the individuality in humanity and celebrates bringing people together. It embodies the idea that every individual has distinctive lived experiences that are threaded together and woven into a collective tapestry of cultures. The Baton form is entwined with unique components and displays connectivity to represent the power of collaboration.
The Baton's form
The shape of the Baton moves away from the traditional shape seen in previous editions of The Queen’s Baton. With Birmingham 2022 making history by being the first major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men, the strength and fortitude of women across the Commonwealth is celebrated throughout the design of the Baton.
Lining the length of the Baton is a platinum strand, paying homage to The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year, as well as celebrating her role as the Head of the Commonwealth.
To represent the bronze, silver and gold medals that athletes will be competing for, the Baton has been cast using accessible, non-precious metals of copper, aluminium and brass. By using aluminium forged using the traditional method of lost wax casting in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the Baton has used the centuries of local expertise and craftsmanship that gives Birmingham its reputation as the city of a thousand trades.
The Baton's design
Etched onto a steel plaque on the top of the Baton is the Birmingham 2022 logo, a distinctive ‘B’ shape that is a visual representation of communities across the West Midlands. The mechanised chamber sitting beneath the brass leaf plaque will be opened at the Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony to reveal The Queen’s message.
As the Baton travels on its journey and tells stories from communities, the warm copper tones of the Baton will develop a mesmerising patina, a blue-green film that forms on the material after exposure, demonstrating how it will evolve in appearance as it is passed between Batonbearers.
The Baton’s technology
Enhanced with cutting-edge technologies, the Baton will capture data and stories from across the Commonwealth, shining a spotlight on grassroots innovation and celebrating the people driving change within their communities. The Baton features LED lighting and a heartrate sensor that display the heartbeats of Batonbearers. The lighting also changes when two people grip the Baton during handover.
The Baton also has atmospheric sensors with laser technology that analyses the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world. Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to creatively visualise the data captured throughout the journey to invite more awareness of and conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth. The data will contribute to the ongoing research projects being conducted by atmospheric scientist Professor Francis Pope and his team at the University of Birmingham.
Fitted with a 360-degree camera it will record and transmit imagery and digital information, allowing stories from Commonwealth communities to be told. GPS technology allows the Baton to be tracked on its travels.
The Baton will travel an epic international route, spanning an impressive 269 days, spending between two and four days in each nation or territory, covering approximately 90,000 miles (140,000 kilometres), having over 7,500 Batonbearers trusted with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Baton.
The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay will visit all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth yet will travel almost half the distance than the previous Gold Coast Queen’s Baton Relay in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint.
Flying out from Birmingham Airport, the first stop on the Queen’s Baton Relay is Cyprus on 9 October, shortly followed by Malta.
Arriving in Africa on 16 October, the Baton will take in the rich cultures of all 19 Commonwealth countries on the continent, as well as a stop on the volcanic island of Saint Helena.
During each visit, nations and territories will host events and activities that showcase untold stories from Batonbearers, athletes, and young people who are striving for change in their community, as well as showcasing a project that addresses at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The global journey will conclude at the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony where the final Batonbearer will return the Baton to Her Majesty The Queen.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will see 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories taking part in 11 days of spectacular sport, from 28 July – 8 August 2022. The ticket ballot, with prices starting at just £8 for under 16s and £15 for adults, is open right now, but closes tomorrow (30 September), with applicants needing to submit their requests by the 8 pm deadline. To apply for tickets now go to www.birmingham2022.com/the-games/tickets/.
For more information on The Queen’s Baton Relay, visit www.birmingham2022.com/queens-baton-relay.