How did Eurovision 2023 end up in the UK?

Eurovision 2023 will be in the UK
Winners of 2022: Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine
In principle, Ukraine would organise Eurovision 2023
The country is (partly) in ruins
Difficult talks between Eurovision and Ukraine
Eurovision's official statement
If not Ukraine, then who?
UK was number two
Many UK cities want to do it
We are the 'music city'!
Scotland already did it in a movie
But Boris Johnson said: no thanks
He will be gone
Meanwhile, in Kyiv...
Minister of Culture did not agree
Other contenders?
Spain is confident of winning next time
Changing countries? It's happened before
No less than 6 times did a winning country refuse
Israel had its Holocaust memorial that day
The decision: Eurovision 2023 in Britain
Which city will host Eurovision?
September 1: Eurovision city announced
Eurovision 2023 will be in the UK

They did not win this year's Eurovision Song Contest and yet they are organising next year's show. Here's the story of a remarkable edition of Eurovision, the world's best-watched musical competition.

Winners of 2022: Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine

In case you missed it, Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest of 2022. Kalush Orchestra stole the hearts of the voting public - and many national juries with the song 'Stefania,' a mix of rap and melancholic folklore that had everyone thinking about the state the band's country was in.

In principle, Ukraine would organise Eurovision 2023

According to the rules of Eurovision, the country that wins the contest gets to organise it in the following year. So strictly speaking, the festival should go to Kyiv or another Ukrainian city in May 2023. But there were some obstacles...

(Image: the yearly Atlas Festival in Kyiv, by Sergey Gylyuk / Unsplash)

The country is (partly) in ruins

Ukraine is at war. The devastation in many parts of the country is significant and not easy to repair - if the nation gets the opportunity to rebuild anything in the coming year at all. Peace between Russia and Ukraine seems far away. It's not a place where one would easily expect to hold a big, televised event in the coming year.

Difficult talks between Eurovision and Ukraine

In the month after Kalush Orchestra's victory, the Eurovision organisers and Ukraine's national broadcaster UA:PBC had a series of long, difficult talks. They went over different scenarios in which Ukraine might be able to host the Song Contest, somehow.

Eurovision's official statement

But, as Eurovision revealed on June 17, they couldn't make it work. The organisation officially announced that "with deep regret [we have to conclude] that, given the current circumstances, the security and operational guarantees required for a broadcaster to host, organise and produce the Eurovision Song Contest under the ESC Rules cannot be fulfilled by UA:PBC."

If not Ukraine, then who?

So, that was it for 'Kyiv 2023.' As Eurovision said, it shared Ukraine's "sadness and disappointment that next year’s Contest cannot be held in Ukraine." But it also stated that we had to move on. And that was the moment when Europe began speculating: if not in the war-torn-country, then where would the Song Contest of 2023 take place?

UK was number two

It seems logical that the UK is a good backup, given that its contestant, Sam Ryder came in second with his song 'Space Man' during the 2022 festival in Turin. In fact, in the statement about Ukraine's 'disqualification' as a hosting country, Eurovision revealed that it was talking to BBC to "potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in the United Kingdom."

Many UK cities want to do it

The news, released on a Friday afternoon, immediately got a number of British cities in a frenzy. According to BBC, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool directly expressed an interest. Then came London, Brighton, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Belfast.

 

We are the 'music city'!

Mayors began tweeting about their excellent stadiums and their status as a 'music city.' Cardiff said that Wales was considered the 'land of the song,' and Belfast reminded its followers that it was a 'Unesco City of Music.' But then, there's also Liverpool, the birthplace of The Beatles!

Scotland already did it in a movie

The Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish mayors said that it doesn't have to be London (and not even England!) that hosts Eurovision. In fact, film makers thought the same when they made Will Ferrell's comedy 'Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga' for Netflix in 2020. Part of the movie - also starring Rachel McAdams - was filmed around Glasgow's OVO Hydro stadium.

(Image: Netflix)

But Boris Johnson said: no thanks

According to Bloomberg, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a different signal. He said Ukraine's people "deserve to have it." And they can, he believed. "It's a year away. It's going to be fine by the time the Eurovision Song Contest comes around."

 

He will be gone

Boris Johnson may not be the best authority on the matter. For one, he resigned shortly after the Eurovision debate and will not be Prime Minister in 2023. And second, he was man who said Brexit would be feasible, "do or die, come what may." So maybe he's not the most reliable source to inquire after the question of how 'fine' Ukraine will be next year.

Meanwhile, in Kyiv...

In Ukraine itself, some parties got very upset with the (seemingly unilateral) decision of Eurovision to move the 2023 contest to another country than theirs. They said Ukraine might be capable of hosting the event after all, and that they had the right to make the decision.

Minister of Culture did not agree

Ukraine's Minister of Culture and Information, Tkachenko Oleksandr, responded to Eurovision's news with a statement of his own, signed by three previous Ukrainian winners. "Ukraine does not agree," it said, and it calls for more talks about security and other standards. "Hosting Eurovision 2023 in Ukraine is a strong signal to the whole world that it is supported now," the petitioners said.

Other contenders?

Meanwhile, the Spanish were eager to host the Song Contest as well. Their public broadcaster RTVE indicated its interest to take care of Eurovision 2023 right after Kalush Orchestra's victory, Eurovoix reports. Its contestant Chanel ended up third in the finale with the catchy 'SloMo.'

Spain is confident of winning next time

But as soon as BBC became the surest candidate to host the festival in 2023, ESC Today suggests, it seemed that "the Spanish national broadcaster... dropped the idea and will be concentrating on winning the competition next year and then hosting it."

Changing countries? It's happened before

You may think the situation with Ukraine and the Eurovision Song Contest going elsewhere is unprecedented. But in fact, it has happened before that the winning country did not host the festival in the following year.

No less than 6 times did a winning country refuse

It all happened before the 1980s, in a time when Eurovision still consisted of very few contestants. Organising the event was expensive and in five instances, countries that had recently won and hosted the contest before, refused to foot the bill again after winning a second time. Those countries were Switzerland (1957), Netherlands (1960), France (1963), Monaco (1972), and Luxemburg (1974).

 

Israel had its Holocaust memorial that day

One other time, in 1980, Israel refused to host the festival because its date coincided with the national Holocaust memorial day, El Periodico recounts. In the end, The Netherlands took over the job of the Israelis and saw Johnny Logan win that year.

Of course, none of the above arguments for not organising the festival are comparable in any way with the situation Ukraine has found itself in.

The decision: Eurovision 2023 in Britain

On July 25, Europe got the answer to one major question about the song contest: the UK will organise it. The Eurovision organisers made this announcement on their website.

Which city will host Eurovision?

Now, the bidding has started among several British cities. Will we see the Tower Bridge or bagpipes at next year's Eurovision Song Contest  - or maybe both?

 

September 1: Eurovision city announced

The organisation has set a deadline for picking a venue on September 1st. And that's not a luxury, because hosting Eurovision is a lot of work!

Más para ti