Queen's Relay Baton Arrives in Belize

[Linked Image] The Olympics has its torch and the Commonwealth Games has its Queen's Relay Baton which is what flew into Belize this afternoon. It is a part of the Relay Baton's journey from Buckingham Palace to all 71 Commonwealth countries. The tour is a prelude to October's Commonwealth Games in India and we were there when it arrived in the city and when Mayor Moya received it.

Keith Swift Reporting,

This afternoon national team cyclist Byron Pope rode in to the city with the gold plated Commonwealth Relay Baton held high.

Byron Pope, Cyclist

"I feel very proud because I am doing it for my country Belize."

He brought into the city and placed it in the hand of special athlete Michael Graham who won gold in the 200 meter in the 2008 Special Olympics. Graham then almost immediately handed the shining 2 kilogram baton to Mayor Zenaida Moya.

Mayor Zenaida Moya, Belize City

"It is an honor for me to be handed over the baton simply because this is a very prestigious event. It is an event that brings together all the Commonwealth countries. It is a comadre that we share, all of us speaking English in terms of all of us having a history, we have the queen as our head of state and we share a lot in common."

The symbol of universal friendship has been to 47 countries and will visit all 71 Commonwealth countries before October's Commonwealth Games in India.

John Hoskins, Vice President Commonwealth Games Assoc.

"It started in Buckingham Palace in October and it is going to finish up the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in October of this year.

The significance, well it is very similar to the Olympic torch where the flames goes ahead of the games and then they open the games. In 1958 they decided they wanted to have something to the torch so they had a baton. It was just a like normal relay baton which you would run around the track with, a wooden one, and inside was a message from the queen but it is now expanded and now it goes to all countries in the Commonwealth."

And now it is also high tech. It weighs 2 kilograms, is gold plated, and the queen's message is now contained on this leaf - coated in 18 karat gold. It is also equipped with a camera and microphone.

Pasul Thapas, Commonwealth Games Assoc.

"This box contains the queen's message athletes which will be carried around the 70 Commonwealth nations and will be read aloud on 3rd October 2010 at the opening of the games. It will be put on a big screen and it will be read by the queen herself. This message has been inscribed on a golden leaf which is 18 karat gold and first time in the history of Commonwealth Games Relay the message has been inscribed using a modern technology known as micro calligraphy."

Keith Swift,

"Is it heavy?"

Pasul Thapas,

"You can hold it. It is not that heavy. One very good feature of this baton is the GPS system which is housed in this baton. If someone tries to steal it, we will know where it is, we will know where to track it down."

But there will be no need to track it down because for the next two days - it will be in Belize.

There will be a parade through the streets of the city tomorrow evening after which Mayor Moya will pass it on to Minister of Sports Elvin Penner. He will take it to Belmopan on Friday and hand it over to Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez. It leaves Belize for Bermuda on Friday. The Commonwealth Games will be held in October in India.


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