Sixteen nations sent a total of 500 competitors to the Games in London. In addition to the 11 nations that competed in Hamilton, making their debut in London were Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and Trinidad. This was also to be the last time that Newfoundland took part independent of Canada.
Six sports were featured in the Games – athletics, boxing, cycling, lawn bowls, swimming and diving and wrestling. A highlight of the 1934 Games was the inclusion of events for women in athletics, with careful consideration given not to include events that were considered 'too exhaustive'. The running events were restricted to the short sprints and a shortened 4 x 220 yard relay instead of the 4 x 440 yard relay as per the men's program. Nevertheless this was a breakthrough for women in sport that would one day lead to full recognition and programming for women's athletics on the international stage.
Originally scheduled for Johannesburg, South Africa, the II Games were hosted by London, in order to avoid a political crisis over South Africa's 'Apartheid' policy and its implications on visiting Commonwealth athletes and officials.