England has announced it has agreed to host next year’s Eurovision song contest, after organizers said they have to back out of holding the event war-torn Ukraine.
Ukraine won this year’s contest, held in Turin, Italy, while Britain’s entry took second place. As the winner, Ukraine had insisted it could host next year’s despite the Russian invasion.
But now the BBC will instead produce the beloved and campy international music competition and will now start choosing a host city in the UK in collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The event will still be in “the spirit of Ukraine.”
“The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will not be in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine,” UA:PBC chief Mykola Chernotytskyi said in a joint statement with the EBU and BBC.
“We are grateful to our BBC partners for showing solidarity with us,” he said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said it was his “strong wish” for Ukraine to host the 2023 edition and found it “deeply regrettable” that was no longer possible.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the BBC had stepped in at the request of the EBU “and the Ukrainian authorities” led by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I’m just sorry that due to Russia’s continued acts of bloodshed it has not been possible to host the event in Ukraine, where it should be,” she said.
“As hosts, the UK will honor the competition’s spirit and diversity, and most importantly, ensure it reflects Ukraine’s recent Eurovision victory and Ukrainian creativity.” In May, Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra won the world’s biggest live music event in Turin, on a wave of support for their country following Russia’s invasion.
It comes as last month, the EBU said Ukraine could not guarantee the safety of more than 10,000 people involved in the production and a further 30,000 fans expected to attend.
The EBU said Ukraine was still guaranteed a place in the 2023 grand final along with the organization’s “top five” countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The BBC has said it will commit to making the event a reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music.
Sixteen U.K. cities are in the running to host the event. “Bidding is expected to be competitive, with several mayors, councillors and MPs already informally expressing an intention to bid, including representatives from: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wolverhampton,” said the EBU.