Next year Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Britain, organizers said on Monday, after concluding that it was too risky to hold the much-loved pop extravaganza in the designated host country of Ukraine.
The UK said the 2023 event would be a celebration of Ukrainian culture and creativity.
Ukraine won the right to host the prestigious pan-continental music competition when its contender, the folk-rap ensemble Kalush Orchestra, won this year’s competition in May. Briton Sam Ryder came second.
The European Broadcasting Union, which manages Eurovision, said he concluded that “unfortunately, next year’s event will not be able to take place in Ukraine for safety and security reasons.” He said Britain’s BBC had agreed to air the show on behalf of Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC.
“The 2023 Eurovision song Competition will not be in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine,” said Mykola Chernotytskyi, head of the UA:PBC board. “We are grateful to our partners at the BBC for showing solidarity with us.
Will ‘celebrate’ Ukraine, says UK PM
The fate of the 2023 contest had been discussed between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson said the two agreed that “wherever Eurovision 2023 takes place, it must celebrate the country and the people of Ukraine.”
“As we are now hosts, the UK will honor that commitment directly – and run a fantastic competition on behalf of our Ukrainian friends,” Johnson said.
Ukraine has won the competition three times and has hosted Eurovision in 2005 and 2017. The contest has been held eight times in Britain, most recently in 1998, the year after the UK’s last victory.
The BBC said the bid to be the host city for the 2023 contest will open next week. Officials from London, Manchester and Sheffield all said on Monday they would apply.
Founded in 1956 to help unite a continent scarred by World War II, Eurovision has grown to include over 40 countries, including non-European nations like Israel and Australia.
Organizers strive to keep pop and politics separate – banning overtly political symbols and lyrics – but global tensions have often dogged the contest. Russia were expelled from this year’s competition due to their invasion of Ukraine in February.