London: Britain said Monday it had reluctantly agreed to take Ukraine’s place as hosts of next year’s Eurovision song contest after organisers said there was no prospect of the event going ahead in the war-torn country.
The BBC will instead produce what it called the world’s “largest and most complex music competition”, and will now start choosing a host city in the UK in collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
Ukraine won this year’s contest, held in Italy, ahead of Britain’s entry in second place. It had insisted it could host next year’s despite the Russian invasion.
But the EBU ruled that out, and Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC acquiesced to a UK-hosted event infused with “Ukrainian spirit”.
“The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will not be in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine,” UA:PBC chief Mykola Chernotytskyi said in a joint statement with the EBU and BBC.
“We are grateful to our BBC partners for showing solidarity with us,” he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said it was his “strong wish” for Ukraine to host the 2023 edition and found it “deeply regrettable” that was no longer possible.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the BBC had stepped in at the request of the EBU “and the Ukrainian authorities” led by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I’m just sorry that due to Russia’s continued acts of bloodshed it has not been possible to host the event in Ukraine, where it should be,” she said.
“As hosts, the UK will honour the competition’s spirit and diversity, and most importantly, ensure it reflects Ukraine’s recent Eurovision victory and Ukrainian creativity.”