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Eurovision bosses in talks with BBC over hosting 2023 event in UK

Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra (Eurovision/PA)
Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra (Eurovision/PA)

The organiser of the Eurovision Song Contest has said it is in talks with the BBC to “potentially host” the 2023 event, after concluding next year’s contest cannot be held in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian entry of Kalush Orchestra won the competition in Turin, Italy this year and it is traditional that the winning country hosts the event the following year.

However, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said that following a “full assessment and feasibility study” it had concluded the “security and operational guarantees” required to host the event cannot be fulfilled by Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC.

If the UK does host the contest in 2023, it would be the ninth time it has taken place here – more than any other country.

In a statement posted online, the EBU thanked the UA:PBC for its “wholehearted cooperation and commitment in exploring all scenarios” but shared its “sadness and disappointment” that the contest cannot be held in the war-torn country.

“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,” it said.

“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.

“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.”

Capital FM Summertime Ball 2022 – Wembley Stadium
The UK’s 2022 entrant Sam Ryder (PA)

Downing Street welcomed the possibility of the UK hosting Eurovision if Ukraine cannot.

A No 10 spokesman said: “Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision song contest was richly deserved and as the rightful winner the Government’s firm wish has been to see next year’s contest hosted there.

“If the EBU decides the competition can’t go ahead in Ukraine we would of course welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.

“But we would be committed to ensuring it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity, as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”

Asked if the Government would help the BBC with the costs, the spokesman said “we’re slightly getting ahead of ourselves in terms of the process”.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered Glasgow as a potential destination for the contest, tweeting: “I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!!”

The BBC said in a statement: “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 UK’s Sam Ryder topped the jury vote in Turin but Kalush Orchestra went on to win overall after a symbolic show of public support which saw them soar to first place with 631 points.

They had been the frontrunners since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February – which prompted organisers to ban the Russian entrant from competing.

Ukraine joined the international contest in 2003 and its three wins make it one of the most successful of the newer competitor countries, having also triumphed in 2004 and 2016.

Katrina Leskanich, from Katrina And The Waves, the last UK entry to win Eurovision with their song Love Shine A Light in 1997 tweeted: “Practically hysterical over the announcement that the UK could host #Eurovision.”

The UK’s second place standing was thrown into doubt after the grand final when it emerged organisers had replaced six countries’ jury results with aggregate scores after noting “irregular voting patterns”.

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino had their results substituted by the EBU.

Some of those countries have since claimed that second place would have instead gone to Spain with SloMo performed by Chanel.

But after an investigation, the EBU stuck by its decision and confirmed Ryder as runner-up.