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EBU clarifies decision to move Eurovision Song Contest 2023 away from Ukraine

In a new press release, the EBU has responded to statements from political figures and Ukraine’s national broadcaster UA:PBC. Once more clarifying its decision to move the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 away from Ukraine. Due to high safety and security concerns for all crew, fans, delegations and press.

The story so far…

Since Kalush Orchestra’s victory earlier this May, much speculation has surrounded Ukraine’s ability to host Eurovision 2023. Over the past few weeks the EBU held talks with Ukraine’s national broadcaster, UA:PBC. During these talks, the overall concerns related to safety and security. Thus the EBU later confirmed the unfortunate news that Ukraine would not be able to host next year. Therefore the EBU decided to talk to United Kingdom broadcaster, BBC. As the runner-up broadcaster, this seemed the natural solution to the matter.

Of course this led to prominent Ukrainian figures, as well as UA:PBC themselves, to issue their own right of reply to address the EBU’s decision.

EBU statement on Ukraine’s inability to host Eurovision 2023

Today the EBU has just issued a further press releases to explain in more detail the specific reasoning why, despite the greatest will to see Ukraine host again after everything the country has been through, it would not be a practical decision. Due to the logistics, safety and security required for up to 30,000 fans, delegations, crew and press. A risk assessment and security questionnaire concluded that Ukraine cannot host the contest next year. Below is the statement in full with all of the EBU’s reasoning.

The EBU fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement that the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) cannot be staged in Ukraine, this year’s winning country.

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.

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 politicized.

The Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, that all participating broadcasters agree upon, clearly state that the event can be moved in a force majeure situation such as an ongoing war.

In response to the EBU’s security questionnaire a number of risks that would impact the immediate planning for such a large event, including the “severe” risk of air raids/attacks by aircraft or attacks by drones or missiles, which can cause significant casualties, were highlighted by the Ukrainian assessment provided to us.

Additionally, the EBU sought third-party expert security advice which clearly stated that the counter measures proposed to mitigate the threats planning the event in Ukraine were insufficient for an international public event and the risk rating of a mass casualty event due to the ongoing conflict is “high”.

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.

Taking all of this into account the EBU, with regret, made its decision to move the event to another country and will continue discussions on finding a suitable location for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We are happy to engage further with our Ukrainian Member UA:PBC on all these issues.


Where next for Eurovision 2023 if not Ukraine?

Following the EBU’s original announcement, several broadcasters expressed interest in hosting next years’ contest. These included – AVROTROS (The Netherlands), TVP (Poland), RVTE (Spain), and BBC (United Kingdom). However the frontrunner currently in talks with the EBU, is the BBC. Despite, Prime Minster Johnson saying he wants the contest to take place in Ukraine after all.

Already as many as 15 cities have declared their intention to present bids to the BBC and EBU to become the next host city of the Eurovision Song Contest. Below, you can find the full map of cities lining up.

They include – SunderlandLeedsGlasgowEdinburghLondonCardiffSheffieldManchester, Liverpool, Prudhoe and the most recent UK Eurovision host city, Birmingham.

Eurovision 2023 United Kingdon

Meanwhile, The Guardian have suggested the EU could be preparing a rival bid for Brussels to host. As well as this, today’s statement does not rule out Poland’s bid. “…border location close to a neighbouring country…” This section only refers to the options to host in the Ukrainian border cities of Lviv and, Zakarpattia. Not neighbouring countries.

Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest

Ukraine made their Eurovision debut back in 2003. First to fly the country’s flag at the contest was Oleksandr Ponomariov who finished 14th with ‘Hasta la vista‘. Despite the underwhelming start, Ukraine didn’t have to wait long to achieve good results. In fact, in 2004 Ruslana triumphed in Istanbul with her charismatic entry ‘Wild Dances‘. Ukraine also won the contest in 2016 with Jamala and her entry ‘1944‘. Besides their two victories, Ukraine also placed second twice in 2007 and 2008 and third in 2013.

Earlier this year, Kalush Orchestra became the latest act to represent Ukraine following the withdrawal of Alina Pash. During the Grand Final in Turin, they broke the televote record with 439 points out of a maximum 468. Overall they achieved a landslide victory over second place United Kingdom, with 631 points in total. Furthermore, Ukraine is still the only country that has a 100% qualification record for the Grand Final.

Do you agree with the EBU’s decision to move Eurovision 2023 away from Ukraine? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram, @escxtra on TikTok and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify for the latest music from your favourite Eurovision acts. As well as YouTube to see our reactions to the news in the run up to the 2023 Eurovision season.

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