The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced that next year's Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) will not be held in Ukraine, the country which won this year's edition.
In a statement on Friday, the EBU conducted a feasibility study and full assessment with Ukrainian broadcaster, the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC), Ukraine and its broadcaster could not be fulfilled due to the invasion of the country by neighboring Russia.
“Given the ongoing war since the Russian invasion of this year's winning country, the EBU has taken the time to conduct a full assessment and feasibility study with both UA:PBC and third-party specialists including on safety and security issues,” the EBU statement wrote on the Contest's website.
“Following objective analysis, the Reference Group, the ESC's governing board, has with deep regret concluded that, given the current circumstances, the security and operational guarantees required for a broadcaster to host, organize and produce the Eurovision Song Contest under the ESC Rules cannot be fulfilled by UA:PBC.”
The EBU thanked the Ukrainian broadcasters while commiserating with them that they will not host next year.
“The EBU would like to thank UA:PBC for their wholehearted cooperation and commitment in exploring all scenarios in the weeks since Kalush Orchestra's win on May 14 in Turin and share their sadness and disappointment that next year's Contest cannot be held in Ukraine,” the statement continued. “The EBU has been supporting UA:PBC across a whole range of areas since the invasion. We will ensure that this support continues so UA:PBC can maintain the indispensable service they provide to Ukrainians.”
This will mark the first time since 1980 that the country that won the previous edition will not be the host of the upcoming Contest. In 1979, Israel won the Contest held on home soil in Jerusalem, but as a result of Israel pulling out due to costs and the Contest falling on a national holiday, the Netherlands stepped in to host the year after.
Traditionally, after a country wins the Eurovision Song Contest, that same country would also win the right to host the following year's edition. Ukraine had already hosted the Contest twice, in 2005 and 2017, both in the capital Kyiv, after winning in 2004 and 2016. Greece and Portugal won those respective Contests, both for the first time.
Despite the decision, the EBU assured that Ukraine's win this year will be reflected in next year's Contest, wherever it may be held.
Ukraine won this year's edition of the Contest, which was held in Turin, Italy, last May 14 (May 15 in Manila), with the song “Stefania” by Kalush Orchestra.
UK to host?
Because of this announcement, the EBU has now begun talks with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of the United Kingdom, the country which finished in second place this year, to potentially host next year's show.
“As a result of this decision, in accordance with the rules and to ensure the continuity of the event, the EBU will now begin discussions with the BBC, as this year's runner up, to potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in the United Kingdom,” the EBU announced.
The United Kingdom last hosted the Contest in Birmingham in 1998, after winning the previous year.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Britain stepped in to host on behalf of countries who won the previous year could not host the following edition.
Should the United Kingdom be confirmed to host next year's edition, this would be the first time since 1974 that they stepped in to host on behalf of a country that could not do so.
The United Kingdom hosted a total of eight of Eurovision Song Contests, the most for any participating country, having hosted the editions of 1960, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1982, and 1998.
Britain had won the contests of 1967, 1969 (as part of a four-way tie with three other countries), 1976, 1981, and 1997.
In addition, the UK had also finished in second place 16 times, including this year, when TikTok sensation Sam Ryder came close to winning the Contest with the song “Space Man.”
The BBC immediately released a statement on the matter, reading, “We have seen the announcement from the EBU. Clearly these aren't a set of circumstances that anyone would want. Following their decision, we will of course discuss the BBC hosting the Eurovision Song Contest,” the United Kingdom's broadcaster wrote.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a letter written by Ukraine's Eurovision winners Ruslana, Jamala, and Kalush Orchestra member Oleh Psiuk, as well as Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko stated that they disagree with the decision and insist on holding the Contest in Ukraine by demanding additional negotiations.
“Ukraine does not agree with the nature of such a decision – when we were confronted with the fact without discussion on other options,” the joint letter wrote. “But we strongly believe that we have every reason to hold further negotiations in order to find a joint solution that will satisfy all parties.”
Kyiv claimed that they were able to fulfill all the requirements needed to hold the Contest in Ukraine.
“Hosting Eurovision 2023 in Ukraine is a strong signal to the whole world that it supports Ukraine now. We will demand to change this decision, because we believe that we will be able to fulfill all the commitments, as we have repeatedly empathized it to the European Broadcasting Union. That is why we demand additional negotiations on hosting Eurovision 2023 in Ukraine,” read the statement.
Ukraine's neighbors in Poland, as well as Sweden and recent hosts the Netherlands and Italy, have also expressed interest in hosting next year's show before the announcement by the EBU was made. The contest's dates are not yet announced as of press time.
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