ALTHOUGH the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England are still at least seven months away, the games spirit has already caught on in Lesotho.
This was evidenced by the great reception that the Queen’s Baton was given during its short stay in the country.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a relay around the world held prior to the beginning of the Commonwealth Games. The baton carries a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II. The relay traditionally begins at Buckingham Palace in London as a part of the city’s Commonwealth Day festivities.
The baton will be relayed to all Commonwealth member nations before being returned to the Queen or her representative at the opening ceremony of the Games. The upcoming games will be held in Birmingham, England on 28 July to 8 August 2022.
The baton arrived in the country on Sunday and it was scheduled to be taken to its next destination yesterday.
As per the tour schedule, the baton’s next destination will be Seychelles from 23 to 26 December 2021, then Pakistan from 27 December 2021 to 1 January 2022.
During its short stay in the country, the baton was well-received by most people from different walks of life.
Following Sunday’s official welcome ceremony at the Royal Palace in Maseru hosted by His Majesty, King Letsie II, the baton was taken to some villages in Leribe on Monday.
These included communities in Peka, Maputsoe and Corn Exchange. Thereafter, it was taken to Kolojane, Thaba Lesoba and Lipetu in Berea.
From Lipetu, it was taken to Ha-Tsae, Ha- Ramapepe and Motebang Hospital, all in the Leribe district.
In all the places, the baton was celebrated through cultural activities and people were given the opportunity to feel it and take photos with it.
Ha-Tsae Village Chieftess, ‘Maphano Molapo, said it was great honour for her people to be chosen to host and celebrate the baton.
“This is a great honour for us to be part of the celebration. I pray that this is not the last time we have such initiatives as they entice youths into sporting activities. We also believe this baton brings good fortunes for the entire nation,” Chieftess Molapo said.
Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) acting chief executive officer ‘Mathato Makhorole, described the baton’s tour as a success in that it had raised awareness about the Commonwealth Games.
“The baton had a very successful tour in Lesotho despite the rain-induced challenges. However, we believe the tour served its purpose of giving the communities an opportunity to enjoy the presence of the baton in the country.
“We also got an opportunity to teach people about the Commonwealth Games and prepare them to rally behind local athletes during the games next year,” Makhorole said.
On Tuesday, the baton was celebrated at Olympafrica Centre in Lepereng, Maseru. There was also a farewell dinner at Avani Maseru which was graced by several dignitaries including British High Commissioner to Lesotho, Anne Macro, and Gender, Sports and Recreation Minister, Likeleli Tampane. Members of the LNOC and other sporting disciplines were also in attendance.