The XI Games were the largest ever in terms of sports, participating nations and athletes. Whilst Edmonton had won the right to host the Games with an audacious vision presented six years earlier to the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly, the organisers had to walk a careful tightrope in the immediate run up to the Edmonton Games to ensure that there was no repeat of the African nations boycott of the 1976 Montreal Olympics caused by a New Zealand rugby tour of South Africa.
Forty-six countries sent a total of 1,474 athletes and 504 officials to the Edmonton Games. As host nation, Canada also topped the medal table for the first time. Edmonton 1978 was the first to use a computerised system for ticket sales.
Ten sports were featured at the Edmonton Games – Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Gymnastics, Lawn Bowls, Shooting, Swimming and Diving, Weightlifting and Wrestling.