Glasgow games hit by rethink as Gambia makes exit

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The Gambia will no longer be participating in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, taking the number of competing nations and territories to 70.

Confirmation of the move comes just days after the west African nation announced its withdrawal from the Commonwealth, saying it will “never be a member of any neo-colonial institution”.

Part of the route for the Queen’s Baton Relay, set to get under way this week at a ceremony in London, will now be redrawn.

The development was confirmed by Games officials last night.

A spokesman said: “The Queen’s Baton Relay visits all nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

“As Gambia has formally withdrawn from the Commonwealth, alternative plans will now be made and the Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay will not visit The Gambia.

“This planning is now under development in collaboration with the Commonwealth Games Federation and we will provide further information in the near future.”

On Wednesday, the Foreign Office said The Gambia’s decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth was something to “very much regret”.

It was not clear what triggered the decision to leave the association.

Though a popular destination for British tourists, the country has been heavily criticised for human rights abuses under the rule of president Yahya Jamme, who came to power in a military coup.

The Queen will help set the baton on its way at the public launch ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. She will place a message to the athletes inside the baton but it will not be read until the opening ceremony in July.

This week’s ceremony in London will also be attended by two of Scotland’s greatest Commonwealth and Olympic athletes, Allan Wells and Sir Chris Hoy.

Sprint legend Wells, winner of two Commonwealth Golds and the 100m Olympic sprint title at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, will be the first athlete to receive the baton from the Queen and start it on its journey.

Sir Chris, a six-time Gold Olympian and double Commonwealth Gold medallist, will escort the baton as it makes the processional journey down the Mall, accompanied by pipers, to the ceremony itself.

One of the first stops for the Glasgow 2014 baton will be Delhi, which hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, before it travels through Asia, Oceania, Africa, North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

It will later travel the length and breadth of Scotland on the way to its final destination, the opening ceremony on July 23 2014.