The sporting world was thrown into crisis when the Australian state of Victoria withdrew from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games this week. They only agreed to host the Games in April 2022, and the Commonwealth Games Federation were only told about the cancellation decision hours before Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement to the media.

It wasn’t even that he announced their disappointment at having to withdraw on grounds of costs; he was somewhat triumphant about it. He described it as “one of the easiest decisions” he’d made, adding that 12-days of a sporting event “wasn’t worth it”.

Katie Sadlier, the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation, was left stunned at the way it was announced and the lack of consultation. In sport diplomacy terms, it wasn’t the best day at the office for Daniel Andrews.

The Australian government is jointly hosting the Women’s World Football Cup with New Zealand at the moment, and hosting the Olympics in 2032. This is not a good look for a country that has set itself up as an "eventful nation” and dominates the sports event world.

READ MORE: Commonwealth Games 2026: Should Scotland host again?

As many scramble to see if a bid to take over hosting the Games is possible, many cities are looking at the possibility of what is really possible, in what is one of the worst economic crises in recent times.

Scotland can be part of the solution – but we must manage our expectations as to what this might look like.

In recent years, we have learned that we need to stop moving major events from new city to new city. At a time of climate change, sustainability is high on the agenda.

Clearly, there are more than enough cities that can share the hosting of global events. Glasgow has demonstrated this following the 2014 Commonwealth Games. They went on to create a new event, the European Championships in 2018 with Berlin and jointly hosted the event. This was hailed a success by all involved including the media and global sponsors.

Glasgow would go on to host the Para Swimming World Championships in 2019, using the facilities from the 2014 Games – and is now hosting the forthcoming UCI World Cycling Championships; which also involves other cities across Scotland. This major event will leave mountain bike trails, accessible routes and pathways into cycling for the future use.

In short, Scotland has the expertise and infrastructure already in place to host some of the events in 2026 – but it is unrealistic to suggest that we can do it alone.

However, if the Scottish, UK and Welsh governments work together they could absolutely deliver the Games without breaking the bank. The Games are estimated to cost £3.5billion to run, but with facilities and infrastructure already in place costs could be kept to a minimum. Athletics could be hosted by London or Birmingham where they have bigger stadia already in place, with Scotland and Wales hosting other events.

The Commonwealth Games is more than just the “12-day sporting event” that Daniel Andrews described. It is the only multi-sport event that includes para sport events – meaning that it is an integrated event.

READ MORE: When Edinburgh was twice in the Commonwealth Games spotlight

This is important as it challenges the ableist assumptions around major sporting events and showcases para athletes alongside able bodied athletes. The Commonwealth Games is also a chance for smaller sports and nations to compete. Sports as varied as netball, squash and lawn bowls are culturally significant in different countries – such as Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, for example, but are never part of the Olympic Games.

Scotland gets to compete under its own banner at these Games and the sense of cultural identity is important to athletes. Some of the athletes don’t make the selection for the Olympics under the UK banner so this is a chance for development for many and an important event in promoting brand Scotland.

The Games has moved beyond the old mantra of “the Empire Games” – indeed, organisers have met that challenge head on. Dame Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, has set a vision for the Games as an event that promotes "unity and peace”.

In sport diplomacy terms, the Games allows nations a means to influence other nations, in social, political relations, cultural exchange, diplomatic exchange. It raises a nation's soft power standing and allows them to increase their opportunities for trade, investment, tourism, international students.

All of the UK home nations have benefited greatly from previous Commonwealth Games. It offers the chance to address structural inequalities; for example, ensuring we have accessible venues, roads, trains etc making it better for all of society not just those that are competing.

Multi-sport events provide the platform for a progressive opportunity for cities and nations, and 2026 offers that more than most if we can host it in conjunction with other cities in the UK demonstrating sustainability, supporting greening events, action on climate change and inclusive sport.

So how likely are we to see the 2026 Games switch to the UK?

Well, First Minister Humza Yousaf has stated that he was willing for Scotland to consider proposals to host at least part of the 2026 games, while London Mayor Sadiq said the city was “ready to support if necessary”. Khan added that he would back a bid to host the Games – but would need the support of the UK Government.

However, the UK faces competition, not least from other Australian states who may be eager to step in and maintain the country’s reputation as a hub for major sporting events.

Whatever the case, this unfortunate situation offers a possibility to showcase a future format for mega-sporting events; something more sustainable and collaborative. There’s every chance a positive can be extracted from this negative, showing the lasting difference the Games can make to multiple communities, international relations and athletes.

Professor Gayle McPherson is chair in Events and Cultural Policy, and Director of the Research Centre for Culture, Sport and Events at University of West of Scotland. She was on Glasgow's 2014 Games bid committee