THE First Minister has said he has asked his staff to “explore” the possibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games as part of a multi-country bid.

The Games were due to take place in Victoria, Australia, but the state abruptly pulled out on Tuesday citing rising costs.

With the Commonwealth Games Federation now saying it is open to discussions with any member nations interested in taking on the staging of the event, Humza Yousaf said he would investigate what might be possible.

Scotland has hosted the Commonwealth Games on three occasions already, twice in Edinburgh in 1970 and 1986, and most recently in Glasgow in 2014.

Yousaf told STV: “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.

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“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.”

Yousaf's comments come after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said, “we are getting slightly ahead of ourselves,” when asked if the British Government would encourage a UK bid for 2026.

Katie Sadleir (below), the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said her organisation was “open” to discussions with all members with a view to replacing Victoria as hosts – including the UK.

Sadleir, who described the news of Victoria’s withdrawal as “devastating”, said the CGF had been given eight hours’ notice of the decision to pull out.

The National:

Sadleir said CGA chief executive Craig Phillips was “correct” in his statement earlier on Tuesday that Victoria had “wilfully ignored” recommendations that could have reduced costs, such as using existing facilities in Melbourne.

“At all times we questioned whether or not they had really thought through the dispersed model,” added Sadleir.

“They increased the number of hubs from what the original bid was. They added additional sports, they decided to invest in facilities outside of Melbourne, some of them which had limited legacy because of the pop-up nature of them. But those were decisions that they made.

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“We did go back to them several times to say, ‘are you sure?’ and were assured.

“We were aware there was a budget submission, it was a paper that went to the (CGF) board in mid-April. So we were aware (of an increase in estimated costs), but we did not have those figures that are (now) in the public domain.

“We definitely did provide a variety of solutions to actually reduce the cost of the Games. They said it was their unique model and they wanted to invest in regional economic development. They did not want anything in Melbourne that was existing, they wanted to invest in the regions and at all times we were led to believe that they had the funding to do that.”

Asked if she could assure athletes there would be a Games in 2026, Sadleir said: “What I can assure them is that I will be working very hard to make that happen.”