Difference between Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games

Key Difference: The main difference between the two is that in the Olympic Games countries from around the world compete, whereas in the Commonwealth Games only the countries that are part of the Commonwealth of Nations compete.

Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games are two difference games in which countries from around the world compete to win medals and gain attention. However, the two games are not exactly alike, in fact there a various differences between them that make each of the stand apart.

The primary difference between the two games is how competes in the games. The structure of the game is similar, such as athletes from different countries compete in different sports to win medals. However, in the Olympic Games athletes from countries around the world compete, whereas in the Commonwealth Games, only athletes from countries that were once part of the Commonwealth compete.

The Commonwealth or Commonwealth of Nations typically refers to countries that were one part of the British Empire, but have since declared independence. The Commonwealth of Nations has 52 member states, including, Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Jamaica, and others.

Further differences between the games include the sports themselves. Both games have different lineup of sports and events that are independent of each other, which means that each of them tend to have events and competitions which the other one does not. For example, the Commonwealth Games includes squash, netball and lawn bowling, events that are not part of the Olympics.

Another difference between the two is that the Olympics and Paralympics are two different events. Due to this, athletes from the two events rarely get to socialize. However, in the Commonwealth Games, the able-bodied and para events take place at the same time, which allows able-bodied and para athletes to interact and learn from each other.

 Also, Olympics tend to happen on a grander scale as more people compete in it and from more countries, which makes it more relevant for people. As only a few countries participate in the Commonwealth Games, especially as compared to the Olympics, the games are only relevant for citizens of those counties. Due to this, it is also harder to qualify for the Olympics, as compared to the Commonwealth Games, as there is more competition, scrutiny, and more bureaucratic hurdles.  

However, each of them is famous in their own rights and in their own circles. For the countries in the Commonwealth, both the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games are equally popular. However, for the rest of the world, the Commonwealth Games do not matter as they have no stake in it. For them, Olympics are everything.

Comparison between Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games:


Commonwealth Games

Olympic Games

First Event




Commonwealth Games Federation

International Olympic Committee (IOC)


London, England

Lausanne, Switzerland

Member Countries

53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations

105 active members, 32 honorary members, 1 honor member


71 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games

Over 13,000 athletes compete



Summer and Winter Olympics


Every 4 years

Every 4 years


17 different sports and over 250 events

33 different sports and nearly 400 events


Less popular as compared to the Olympics

More popular as a lot of people from around the world participate.


Difficult to qualify, but less competitive than the Olympics

More difficult to quality as a lot more people compete for a place

Reference: Wikipedia (Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games), CBC
Image Courtesy:twitter.com, metro.co.uk

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