Eurovision 2023 cannot go ahead in Ukraine due to war

Members of the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra attend a press conference following their victory in the 66th annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Turin, Italy, 15 May 2022. [EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco]

The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest cannot be held in Ukraine given the ongoing war in the country, the European Broadcasting Union said Friday (17 June), adding it was in talks with the BBC to host it in the United Kingdom.

“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 (Ukraine’s public broadcaster) UA:PBC,” ESC said on Twitter.

“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 14 May in Turin and share their sadness and disappointment that next year’s Contest cannot be held in Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won this year’s contest last month in Turin, with the United Kingdom’s entry coming second.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quick to offer his congratulations to Kalush Orchestra when they won.

He had also said in the online message that Ukraine would host the Eurovision song contest.

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After winning the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) on Saturday (14 May), Ukraine is expected to host the gala event next year, highlighting another symbol of its renewed European integration. However, with the war still raging in its territory, the prospect of holding the 2023 edition in Ukraine remains daunting.

“Clearly these aren’t a set of circumstances that anyone would want … we will of course discuss the BBC hosting the Eurovision Song Contest,” the BBC said.

As per tradition, the winner of the ESC hosts the competition the next year, but the security and operational guarantees required for a broadcaster to host the competition meant it had to go to the runner up.

“It is our full intention that Ukraine’s win will be reflected in next year’s shows,” the EBU said.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We would be committed to ensuring that it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”

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