Following the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the X Games at Christchurch was the first multi-sport event to place the safety of participants and spectators as its uppermost requirement. Security guards surrounded the athlete’s village and there was an exceptionally high-profile police presence. Even so, Christchurch enchanted the watching world as a city of beauty.
The entire immediate British Royal Family (Elizabeth II, her husband and children) visited New Zealand as a group and the Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal residence during the Games. The opening ceremony was held in the mid afternoon, with Prince Philip as the attending royal. The athletes took the oath and Sylvia Potts, the runner who fell mere metres from a gold medal finish in the 1970 Games, entered the stadium with the Queen's Baton. It was presented to Prince Philip who read the message from the Queen declaring the 1974 Christchurch 10th British Commonwealth Games open.
Only 22 countries succeeded in winning medals from the total haul of 374 medals on offer, but first time winners included Western Samoa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
On the running track, Jamaica’s Don Quarrie successfully defended both his 1970 100m and 200m gold medals. Quarrie was to go on to win the 1978 100m as well. Filbert Bayi of Tanzania beat John Walker of New Zealand and Ben Jipcho of Kenya to win the 1500 metres and set a new World Record.
Nine sports were featured in these Games with 1,276 athletes taking part in athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, lawn bowls, shooting, swimming and diving, weightlifting and wrestling.
The Games were an important milestone in New Zealand television, marking the introduction of colour television. However, due to the NZBC's limited colour facilities, only athletics, swimming, and boxing could be broadcast in colour.