The countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is well and truly underway following the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in Australia.
Games ambassador and Olympic swimmer Cam McEvoy carried the baton through the Brisbane International Airport’s arrivals hall today after it flew in from New Zealand.
McEvoy, who will compete in the 50m, 100m, 200m freestyle and relay events at next year’s Games, said it symbolised the start of the major sporting event.
“To be the first Australian to hold it on Australian soil is really special and it’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he said.
Over the past 288 days the baton has travelled through 69 countries and territories, with Australia being the 70th and final stop.
It will now travel 40,000kms around Australia before it lands on the Gold Coast for the Games, which run from April 4 to 15.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation chairman Peter Beattie said the Australian leg was the most exciting part of the relay to date.
“This baton is an invitation to come to the Commonwealth Games and be part of history,” he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 1800 baton-bearers would carry it throughout the sunshine state alone, in the 33 days leading up to the Games.
“The baton was specially designed to represent the Gold Coast and now it’s time for the Queen’s Baton to connect with as many Queenslanders and Australians as possible,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said the baton’s arrival on Christmas Eve could not have been better timed.
“Tomorrow is Christmas Day and it marks 100 days until we receive our state’s greatest gift, our largest ever event, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“Queensland and the Gold Coast in particular, have opened a door to the world.”
Following its arrival in Brisbane, the baton will now make its way to Melbourne for the fourth Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day.