Eurovision finalist Sam Ryder has reminded fans that next year’s competition will still be “Ukraine’s Day” after it was announced that it will be held in the UK in 2023.
The British singer said his “heart was heavy” knowing the world famous song contest could not take place in Ukraine, but was quick to add that the UK would be part of a group of ” loving facilitators”.
The organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), had previously decided the event could not take place in war-torn Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
This is despite the Ukrainian participation of the Kalush Orchestra which triumphed at this year’s competition in Turin, Italy.
“Hey friends, just a few thoughts,” Ryder said in an Instagram video.
“It’s Ukraine Day, we just invite them to throw it at our house.
“I know how much it meant to Kalush and the Ukrainian delegation that he would be at his home in Ukraine next year.
“I’m not the only one whose heart is heavy knowing that can’t be the case right now.
He added: ‘We know how to throw a party here in the UK and our enthusiasm is only eclipsed by our focus on this one goal of booking space and being available to help wherever needed to organize an event that celebrates Ukrainian culture, history and music and stand in solidarity with the rest of the globe by shining a unified light.
“The rest of us are just loving hosts and there is no doubt in my mind that we will all come together in the spirit of unity that Eurovision has always been about celebrating the wonderful people of Ukraine.”
Ryder’s post comes as several major UK cities, including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds, threw their hats into the ring to host Eurovision.
The bidding process will begin this week, with the BBC and the EBU jointly making the final decision on which city will host.
Any winner would need ample event space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for competing countries and their delegations.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said his city was “ready and willing to step up” with a competition that “celebrates the Ukrainian people and shows the best of Britain”.
Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig tweeted that the ‘world-class music city’ had experience of hosting such major events and was ‘confident we’ll make this an unforgettable #eurovision “.
Sheffield City Council was among the first to announce an offer, saying on Twitter: “We told Eurovision that we would be delighted to host… Watch this space.
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said the town was the “obvious choice” because of its international airport and the fact that it is twinned with the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
Leeds City Council added that it made ‘complete sense’ for them to host next year as they will be the City of Culture for 2023.
Two of Scotland’s biggest cities, Glasgow and Aberdeen, have also announced they will compete to host the competition in 2023.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said the city was a ‘safe pair of hands’ for the event after hosting Cop26 last November, while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had also previously backed the city for to welcome him, tweeting: ‘I can think of a perfect venue on (the) banks of the River Clyde!! “.
Swindon Borough Council also weighed in, saying they were ‘flattered’ to be considered online, but would not be bidding for the honor of hosting the tasks.
The 2023 competition will be the ninth time Eurovision has taken place in the UK – more than any other country.
Ukraine will automatically qualify for the grand final alongside the so-called big five nations – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, who each get a free pass due their financial contributions to the event.
Martin Osterdahl, Executive Supervisor of Eurovision, said: “We are extremely grateful that the BBC has agreed to bring the Eurovision Song Contest to the UK in 2023.
“The BBC has taken on hosting duties for other winning countries on four occasions.”
In a statement, BBC Director General Tim Davie said: “The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture while showcasing the diversity of music and British creativity”.
UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As hosts, the UK will honor the spirit and diversity of the competition and, above all, ensure that it reflects the recent victory of the Ukraine at Eurovision and Ukrainian creativity.
This year’s competition in May saw Ryder top the jury vote before Kalush Orchestra won the overall standings after a token show of public support saw them soar to first place with 631 points.
They had been favorites since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – prompting organizers to ban the Russian contender from competing.
It remains unclear whether the BBC will have to fund the competition from its current licensing fee allocation or whether it will receive additional money, although it is in ongoing talks with the government over the matter.