Eurovision Issues Statement After Ukrainian Broadcaster’s Disappointment Over 2023 Decision

Eurovision organisers have shared a statement offering more information about the process that led to them deciding Ukraine would not host the contest next year.

Last month, Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra stormed to victory at the annual music competition with their song Stefania.

While traditionally the winning country would host Eurovision the following year, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) confirmed recently that this would not be able to happen amid the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Thanking the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC for “their wholehearted cooperation and commitment”, they insisted: “It is our full intention that Ukraine’s win will be reflected in next year’s shows. This will be a priority for us in our discussions with the eventual hosts.”

Following this announcement, UA:PBC released their own statement, claiming the EBU had “denied Ukraine the right to host Eurovision 2023”.

“We are disappointed with this decision of the EBU,” a spokesperson said. “During this month, a large number of people in Ukraine have thrown all their efforts to fulfil the conditions for holding Eurovision in our country. Security is, of course, our first priority.

“The team of UA: PBC, state and local authorities did a thorough job and offered different options. It is a pity to see such an unappealable statement, therefore, we ask our partners to hold further negotiations.”

Kalush Orchestra pictured during their winning performance
Kalush Orchestra pictured during their winning performance

picture alliance via Getty Images

The decision was also criticised by reigning Eurovision champions Kalush Orchestra, with frontman Oleg Psiuk saying: “Our team is also very disappointed with the EBU’s decision and has high hopes that it is possible to change it.

“We really want to hold this Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine and our Armed Forces will do everything possible to make it safe for everyone. Just give us a little time and we will prove to you that everything will be as it should be.”

On Thursday afternoon, the EBU insisted that while they “understand the disappointment from Ukraine”, they were standing by their decision.

“The decision was guided by the EBU’s responsibility to ensure the conditions are met to guarantee the safety and security of everyone working and participating in the event, the planning of which needs to begin immediately in the host country,” they said.

“At least 10,000 people are usually accredited to work on, or at, the Eurovision Song Contest including crew, staff and journalists. A further 30,000 fans are expected to travel to the event from across the world. Their welfare is our prime concern.

“It is therefore critical that decisions made in relation to such a complex live television event are made by broadcasting professionals and do not become politicised.”

The EBU went on to say that Ukraine’s response to a security questionnaire highlighted a number of risks that would impact the immediate planning of Eurovision, including the “severe” risk of air raids and attacks by aircraft, drones and missiles.

In addition, organisers said they ordered third-party security advice which found counter-measures to reduce the threats in Ukraine were “insufficient” and the risk rating of a mass casualty event due to the ongoing conflict was “high.”

Their statement continued: “Alongside the security concerns, the continued conflict in Ukraine makes delegations and participants reluctant to travel to the country. We also noted the comments made by the Nato Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, that the war in Ukraine ‘could take years’.

“With regards to the possibility of hosting the Contest in a border location close to a neighbouring country, the specifications of suggested venues, and the lack of the necessary surrounding infrastructure, do not meet the requirements of the ESC.

“When drawing its conclusions, the EBU also took note that, based on our current information, no major international concert tours are visiting Ukraine throughout 2023.

“All this contributes to the EBU’s overall assessment that in terms of security and operational guarantees, the necessary requirements for hosting, as set out in the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest are not met.”

The EBU previously said they were in talks with the BBC about the UK hosting Eurovision in 2023, following Sam Ryder’s second-place finish in Turin.

Sam Ryder in Turin earlier this year
Sam Ryder in Turin earlier this year

Giorgio Perottino via Getty Images

However, prime minister Boris Johnson said over the weekend he thought Ukraine “can” and “should” host the contest.

Speaking to reporters shortly after returning from an unannounced visit to Kyiv, Johnson explained: “I have just been to Kyiv. I won’t say it is completely jiving and buzzing and popping but it is far, far more lively. People are much more confident. People are out in the streets eating in cafes and restaurants in a way that they weren’t even few weeks ago.

“The Ukrainians won the Eurovision Song Contest. I know we had a fantastic entry, I know we came second and I’d love it to be in this country. But the fact is that they won and they deserve to have it.”

He added: “I believe that they can have it and I believe that they should have it. I believe Kyiv or any other safe Ukrainian city would be a fantastic place to have it.”

William

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