19 July 2023

Yousaf: We need to discuss if Scotland can afford to host Commonwealth Games

19 July 2023

Scotland’s First Minister has said there needs to be a conversation on whether Scotland could afford to host the Commonwealth Games after the 2026 host pulled out citing rising costs.

The Australian state of Victoria announced on Tuesday they would no longer be hosting the games.

Scotland has held the competition on three previous occasions in Edinburgh in 1970 and 1986 and Glasgow almost a decade ago in 2014.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Wednesday in Fife, Mr Yousaf said: “There is a serious conversation around whether that is something we could commit to financially or not.

“I’m not trying to pour cold water on the suggestion because I can understand why people are asking.

“Let’s see what’s possible, but I think it will be quite challenging.”

He said hosting the Commonwealth Games will have to be part of a “wider and broader” and potentially “multi-country” or “multi-city” effort and that discussions about potentially hosting all or part of the games are at “very early stages”.

Mr Yousaf said he would explore the possibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games as part of a multi-country bid.

There is a serious conversation around whether that is something we could commit to financially or not

The Commonwealth Games Federation described Victoria’s decision as “hugely disappointing” and said it is open to discussions with any member nations interested in taking on the staging of the event.

Scotland has hosted the Games three times, most recently in Glasgow in 2014, and First Minister Humza Yousaf said he has asked staff to explore possibilities for 2026.

Mr Yousaf said: “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.”

Swimmer Ross Murdoch, who won gold in the 200 metres breaststroke representing Scotland at Glasgow 2014, said it was disappointing that Victoria would not be hosting the Games.

The former Olympian, who also won silver at the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018 and three bronze medals at Birmingham in 2022, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I remember my time on the Gold Coast very vividly and Australia did a remarkable job of hosting them, it was absolutely phenomenal, so I do feel a bit gutted that there won’t be that same exposure for a lot of Scottish athletes.”

However, he said he was excited by the possibility of the Games taking place in Scotland again.

Mr Murdoch said: “The idea of Scotland hosting another Commonwealth Games is pretty exciting because I remember it very well, it was a phenomenal opportunity.

“There’s not a lot of people who go on to make Olympic Games, making an Olympic Games is very different – to be honest, having made both, I look back more fondly, probably, at my memories from the Commonwealth Games.

“I felt very proud to be there and that was all I ever wanted from sport, was to go to Glasgow 2014, I remember how much it inspired me and the rest of the people around me on that team.”

Badminton player, and former Olympian, Susan Egelstaff, who won bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006, suggested the days of the Commonwealth Games might be numbered.

She told the BBC: “I think the really sad thing about the news yesterday about Victoria withdrawing is it’s hard to escape the fact that this is almost certainly the beginning of the end for the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s really hard to see how it has a long-term future now when so many governments and countries are just so reluctant to pay the cost of these Games.”

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