Athletes representing all 72 Commonwealth Games Federations are expected to march in the opening ceremony of Birmingham 2022 at the Alexander Stadium on Thursday night.
Here the PA news agency highlights some of the lesser-known nations who will fly their flags alongside giants such as England, Australia and Canada.
Niue is sending a team of 15 athletes to Birmingham, who will compete in boxing, bowls and weightlifting. The team includes Niue Premier Dalton Tagelagi, a 54-year-old lawn bowler, who also competed in 2014 and 2018 prior to his appointment to his island’s highest role. A self-governing nation in the South Pacific with 1,600 inhabitants, Niue has competed at every Games since 2002 and never won a medal.
The flag is flying high in the @birminghamcg22 village 🇳🇫
— Team Norfolk Island 🇳🇫 (@Team_Norfolk) July 26, 2022
Tiny Norfolk Island will be represented in Birmingham by 14 lawn bowlers. The island is perhaps best known as the place where a number of mutineers from the Bounty were resettled, and the connection is evident in 71-year-old John Christian, a sixth generation descendant of Fletcher Christian, who will compete at the Games for the third time. Norfolk Island won their second medal, a bowls bronze, on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Saint Helena’s journey to the Commonwealth Games used to begin with a five-day voyage via post office ship to Cape Town. Since 2018, their adventure has been immeasurably shortened by the opening of an airstrip on the island to which Napoleon was exiled and ultimately died. Saint Helena is sending a 14-strong team comprising athletes, swimmers and a badminton player. They await their first medal.
A tiny archipelago in Oceania comprising a total of 26 square kilometres, Tuvalu is the world’s smallest sovereign country and also its least visited, according to Lonely Planet. The five-strong team for 2022 – comprising two boxers, two beach volleyball players and two athletes – trained on the runway of Funafuti international airport since it is their biggest open space available.
Eswatini has competed in 13 Commonwealth Games – but you might not know it. Prior to 2018 it was known as Swaziland and has won four medals, its last for boxer Simanga Shiba in 2006. The name change was implemented by the nation’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III, to mark 50 years of independence. Mswati has 15 wives and picks more each year from an annual parade of virgins.