Sunday, June 16, 2024
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En route to Commonwealth Games

James Kon

The Queen’s Baton recently landed in Brunei Darussalam on the 111th day of a 264-day long journey to every corner of the Commonwealth. Brunei Darussalam is also the 30th country the Queen’s Baton Relay has reached from a total of 72 nations and territories in the Commonwealth.

The Relay began on October 7, 2021, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placing her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. The global journey will conclude at the opening ceremony of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 where the final Batonbearer will return the Baton to Her Majesty the Queen.

The international route for the Relay spans an impressive 269 days, spending between two and four days in each nation or territory, covering approximately 140,000 kilometres, with over 7,500 Batonbearers trusted with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Baton in their community.

During the visit, each nation and territory will host events and activities showcasing untold stories from Batonbearers, athletes, and young people striving for change in their community, as well as showcasing a project addressing one of the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In Brunei Darussalam, the Queen’s Baton was handed over by Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Dato’ Raja Reza bin Raja Zaib Shah to Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud. The baton’s previous destination was Malaysia.

The Queen’s Baton. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe speaks during the ceremony

The ceremony was witnessed by British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe and high commissioners from the Commonwealth countries as well as representatives from the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC) and the MCYS.

Interestingly, according to birmingham2022.com, the Baton has been specially created by designers and technologists from the West Midlands in a unique collaboration that fuses science, technology, engineering and art.

Product designers and engineers Raymont-Osman Product Design, design and development specialists Kajul, both based in rural Warwickshire, along with Coventry-based Maokwo, headed up by artist Laura Nyahuye, each injected their creativity and expertise into the Baton.

Influenced by her Zimbabwean heritage, artistic skills, activism and community engagement work, Laura brings her passion for tactile and non-precious materials, young voices and lived experience 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, motherhood and femininity within Commonwealth communities which has directly influenced the Baton’s design and concept.

The shape of the Baton moves away from its traditional form 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.

This year’s Queen’s Baton incorporates several cutting-edge technologies to help 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 displays the heartbeats of Batonbearers. The lighting also changes when two people grip the Baton during handover, celebrating collaboration and the sharing of wisdom between young and old.

The Baton has ‘lungs’, consisting of 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.

Fitted with a 360-degree camera, the Baton also has ‘eyes’, and a ‘brain’ which record and transmit imagery and digital information, allowing stories from Commonwealth communities to be told, as well as GPS technology allowing for the location of the Baton to be tracked on its travels around the Commonwealth countries.

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