Monday July 25, 2022

UK to host 2023 Eurovision song contest on Ukraine's behalf

UK to host 2023 Eurovision song contest on Ukraine's behalf

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrates after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision song contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, on May 14, 2022. AP

Britain said on Monday it had reluctantly agreed to host next year's Eurovision song contest, after organisers said there was no prospect of the event going ahead in war-torn Ukraine.

The BBC will instead produce the world's biggest live music event, taking in performers from across Europe and Central Asia as well as Israel and Australia, in a UK city yet to be determined.

Ukraine won this year's contest, held in Italy, ahead of Britain's entry in second place. For the past month, it had insisted it could host next year's despite the Russian invasion.

But after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) ruled that out on security grounds, the government in Kyiv acquiesced to a UK-hosted event with a strongly Ukrainian flavour.

Ukraine welcomed the decision for Britain to host next year's Eurovision song contest after initially condemning the move to strip the war-torn country of its right to host on security grounds.

"We received assurances... that they will hold Eurovision... with an extremely high integration of Ukrainian contexts and presenters," Ukraine's Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Facebook, adding that the decision was made following "several rounds of consultations."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that in phone talks last week with President Volodymyr Zelensky, they "agreed that wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine".

"As we are now hosts, the UK will honour that pledge directly — and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends," Johnson tweeted.

Johnson's spokesman added it had been the soon-to-depart prime minister's "strong wish" for Ukraine to host the 2023 edition, and found it "deeply regrettable" that was no longer possible.

In May, Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra won in Turin, on a wave of support for their country following Russia's invasion.

By convention, the winning country hosts the kitsch annual pop extravaganza the following year. Britain last hosted it in 1998. But 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.

 

Agence France-Presse

 

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