The U.K. will be taking over hosting duties for the 2023 Eurovision Contest from Ukraine, after it was decided that the security risks from the Russian invasion were too great to allow Ukraine to host. File Photo by Alessandro Di Marco/EPA
July 25 (BP) — The Eurovision Song Contest and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said Monday that the U.K. will take over hosting duties for the competition from Ukraine following that country’s invasion by Russia.
“It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. Being asked to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world is a great privilege,” the BBC said in a statement. “The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”
Ukraine won the 2022 edition of the contest in May, with Ukrainian rap group Kalush taking home the top prize with their song “Stefania.” As the winners, the country automatically qualified to host the next edition of Eurovision, the world’s largest and most widely-watched music contest.
It became clear, though, that Ukraine would be unable to host Eurovision after the country was invaded by Russia.
The invasion has caused significant death and destruction in Ukraine, and almost 10 million Ukrainians were forced to flee the nation.
Given widespread security concerns following the invasion, Eurovision looked to the United Kingdom, which was the runner-up in 2022, to take on hosting duties.
The U.K. has stepped in as an emergency host on four previous occasions.
This last occurred in 1974, when winning nation Luxembourg declined to host the show due to the high cost of doing so.
It will be the ninth total time that the country has hosted Eurovision, most recently happening in Birmingham in 1998.
Martin Österdahl, the executive supervisor of Eurovision, said that he was “exceptionally grateful” that the BBC and U.K. would be stepping in for Ukraine.
“We know that next year’s Contest will showcase the creativity and skill of one of Europe’s most experienced public broadcasters whilst ensuring this year’s winners, Ukraine, are celebrated and represented throughout the event,” Österdahl said.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted following the news that he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the future of Eurovision 2023.
“President [Zelensky] and I agreed that wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine,” Johnson said. “As we are now hosts, the U.K. will honor that pledge directly — and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends.”
A host city for the contest has not yet been selected. However, Eurovision noted that the previous cities had been selected based on “providing a venue able to accommodate at least 10,000 spectators, as well as a press center, that should be within easy reach of an international airport and with ample hotel accommodation.”
Eurovision said that it had only begun searching for a host city this week, and more information would arrive in the coming months.
Despite not being able to host the competition, Ukraine, as the reigning champions, will automatically qualify for the Grand Final round of the show.