Yousaf says that Scotland 'to explore' hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games

The First Minister's comments came after Australia's Victoria state pulled out as host of the sporting event on Tuesday.

Humza Yousaf has said that Scotland may “explore” the possibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games as part of a multi-country bid.

It comes after Australia’s Victoria state pulled out as host of the world sporting event on Tuesday due to “financial reasons”.

The games were set to be held across towns like Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has described the decision to withdraw as “hugely disappointing,” adding it is “committed to finding a solution”.

The First Minister said that he has seen comments that Scotland could be part of a “multi-city, multi country host” – an arrangement that the country is ready “to explore”.

He said: “First of all, I’m really disappointed in the news.

“We were desperate for the games to go ahead in 2026, given that we know how excellent the preparations have been going for Team Scotland, it’s also an opportunity for us to compete under the Scottish banner.

“Let’s see what the art of the possible may be.

“As I said, I have noted the comments from others that Scotland could look to be part of something bigger, part of a multi-city, multi-country host.

“So, I’ve seen those comments. I’ve asked my team to explore whether that’s a possibility or not, but it may be difficult, but let’s see what the art of the possible is.”

Scotland last hosted the event in Glasgow in 2014, and oversaw a successful Games for Team Scotland – who ended up with 53 medals.

Eilish McColgan, a Commonwealth gold medallist, said the Glasgow event was an “incredible experience” and it would be “amazing” if the country could host again.

She said: “I do hope someone can step in and I don’t know, it’d be brilliant obviously, to have it back in Scotland again if we could do that, that’d be amazing.

“Glasgow 2014 was a pretty incredible experience. And then of course Birmingham 2022. But of course that’s not the whole point of the Commonwealth, it’s meant to move around, it’s meant to go to different locations.

“I suppose it’s becoming more and more difficult perhaps to find locations that can afford to host them. It definitely needs to be looked at with regards to how do we reduce those costs down.

“It’s meant to showcase different parts of the Commonwealth. But yeah, perhaps it is just a sign of the times at the moment. We’re in an incredibly difficult position after Covid, everyone’s still recovering from that financially. So yeah, I really hope it’s not the end.”

Professor Gayle McPherson, Director of the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events at the University of the West of Scotland, said: “Scotland, England and Wales all have an opportunity here, and they have the facilities already in place to offer a joint solution to the Games; but so do other states in Australia – and they will be embarrassed given that they are hosting the Olympics in 2032.

“Clearly there is no guarantee here – but Scotland has set itself up as an event nation to the level of the Commonwealth Games. We can’t go beyond that – we couldn’t host the Olympics for example – but we don’t pretend otherwise. The country has established itself as somewhere that can successfully host events like this, and there is no reason why we could not do so in 2026 as part of a joint bid across the home nations.”

Council Leader, Cammy Day, said: “We would be happy to have exploratory discussions with the Scottish Government and Visit Scotland on this possibility.

“Whilst we are committed to bringing major events to the Capital, an event of this scale would obviously need significant funding, and confirmed support by both the Scottish Government and UK Government would be required before any serious discussions could take place”.

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