Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond has vowed to keep politics out of the Commonwealth GamesGetty

As Scotland adds the finishing touches to this year's Commonwealth Games, its looming independence referendum means the event could be its final one.

What seperates the Commonwealth Games apart from others such as the Olympics is that it gives British athletes the chance to compete for their home country and not Team GB.

On Thursday, 18 September, Scottish people will go to the polls to decide whether their nation remains part of the United Kingdom or goes it alone as an independent country.

As well as the political and economic ramifications, their decision could spell whether it is the final time they get to see their favourite Scottish athletes compete in the Commonwealth event.


A 'yes' vote would see Scotland drop out of the UK and would have to reapply to join the Commonwealth as it would lose its automatic right as part of the UK.

An independent Scotland would have to be referred to all 54 Commonwealth member states for a decision, in a move that would frustruate a Holyrood that has already faced claims it would have to reapply to join the European Union, Nato and other agencies including the UN.

But in an interview with BBC radio presenter John Humphrys, to explain the impact Scottish independence would have on the Commonwealth nations, Salmond said Scotland would be in the same boat as many other member states.

"I don't think that, given the vast majority of the 71 countries and territories represented here of course went through the process of becoming independent – just about all of them – I don't think that will be a real worry for people coming from that background," Salmond said.

'Established part of the Commonwealth'

As reported by the Guardian, Kamalesh Sharma, a former Indian high commisioner to London and current secretary-general of the Commonwealth, said: "Speculatively, if and when were this situation to arise, then my anticipation is that a question like this won't have automaticity."

But Pete Wishart MP, the Scottish National party's sports and culture spokesman at Westminster, rebutted Sharma's assertion, telling the Guardian last year that Scotland was a key part of the Commonwealth.

"It's beyond ridiculous to suggest that Scotland won't be a member of the Commonwealth. You can't be more of a founder member than Scotland when it comes to an institution; we're hosting next year's games," Wishart said.

"We're a major established part of the Commonwealth and to play silly political games with something so important to the Scottish people is just ridiculous. I really hope the secretary-general looks again at his statement and seeks to clarify his comments as early as possible."

The Commonwealth Games might promote Scotland to wavering independence voters, but it could ironically also prevent its athletes from competing in the 2018 Australia games.