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Canada passes the Commonwealth Games baton

April 19, 2010 16:20 IST

Queen's baton relay ceremony in TorontoThe Queen's baton relay for the Commonwealth Games arrived in Toronto from Bermuda on April 14, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it allows 'communities all over the Commonwealth to take part in Games festivities, while fulfilling its practical function of carrying a message from Her Majesty the Queen to be read at the Games' Opening Ceremony in Delhi, India.'

The Queen's message rests inside the baton and Prince Charles, nominated by the Queen to represent her, will read it out at the opening ceremony, on October 3.

'From April 14 to April 18, it was Canada's turn to welcome the hbaton,' Harper said in a statement from Ottawa.

'We have a proud tradition of hosting and participating in the Commonwealth Games, and the Baton Relay allows Canadians to get into the Commonwealth Games spirit."

The Commonwealth Games commenced in 1930 and Canada was the first to host it. Since then, the country has hosted the Games four times.

The baton was received at the Metro Square by Toronto Mayor David Miller. Standing with him were Tarlochan Singh, Indian member of parliament, and Indian Consul General Preeti Saran.

Saran said, 'Our membership of the Commonwealth is one very important component of all the things that India and Canada have in common.'

The crowd, however, was thin unlike when the winter Olympic torch passed through Toronto a few months back. Bollywood star Akshay Kumar had carried the torch for a segment of the relay on Yonge Street.

'I am honored to receive, on behalf of all Torontonians, the Queen's Baton of the 19th Commonwealth Games,' Miller said. 'It is appropriate that the Queen's Baton here in Toronto is at the mid-way point of its epic journey.'

Several Canadian athletes, who will form part of the 300-strong Canadian contingent to the Games, were present and carried the Baton. 'Our athletes will be there in New Delhi and they will be winning, and winning the gold medals,' Miller said.

Also, present on stage was James Worrall, a silver medalist from the 1934 British Empire Games (as the Commonwealth Games were then called) and later silver medalist at the Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936. 

As one of the sponsors of the Baton Relay in Canada, India Tourism Department's director Ronjon Lahiri and Vibha Tripathi also carried the Baton for a short distance.

From Toronto, the torch was carried to Ottawa where it was to be received by the Speaker of the House of Commons. From Ottawa, the Baton was to be taken to Australia. It will arrive in New Delhi June 25. The Baton left Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom October 29, 2009.

Photograph: 2008 World Wrestling Championship's bronze medallist Ohenewa Akuffo, Toronto Mayor David Miller with Tarlochan Singh, Indian member of parliament, and Indian Consul General Preeti Saran.

Ajit Jain