The Eurovision 2022 season has come to an end, and speculation about Eurovision 2023 has already begun. On Saturday 14 May in Turin, Kalush Orchestra walked away with the crown, giving Ukraine its third Eurovision victory.
As part of the prize package, the Eurovision champion is offered first refusal to host the contest the following year. However, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine leaves things up in the air. With no immediate end to conflict in sight, a number of countries have already offered to host Eurovision 2023. So, what would happen if Ukraine couldn’t host the contest?
Who will host Eurovision 2023?
As is tradition, Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne (UA:PBC) will be offered first refusal to host Eurovision 2023 after Kalush Orchestra’s historic win. At the winner’s press conference, Kalush frontman Oleh Psiuk told the world Ukraine is hopeful to stage next year’s show.
Psiuk said: “Next year, Ukraine will be happy to host the Eurovision Song Contest, and indeed all of Europe, in the new, integrated, happy Ukraine. It is too soon to talk about our plans, but of course we will do everything possible to make the next Eurovision happen in the new, peaceful Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wants to see the contest staged in a Mariupol.
Zelensky said: “We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt! I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off.”
Mariupol is currently under siege by the Russian military and Donetsk separatists. The city’s mayor claims more than 21,000 civilians have died since the assault began. President Zelensky also suggests 95% of the city’s buildings have been destroyed.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will inevitably make for logistic difficulties. Hosting the contest comes with unique logistical challenges: on top of providing an arena to broadcast from, the host city must construct a stage, provide accommodation for thousands of guests including artists and delegations, and assure the security of all those involved. Even with hopes the conflict could conclude before the end of the year, it is likely much of Ukraine’s funding will likely be funnelled into rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.
Though some Western cities — including Lviv, near the Polish border — are considered safer than those in the East, concerns remain over direct travel restrictions and international security, which may ultimately hinder their ability to accommodate for Eurovision next year.
In previous years when the winning country has refused to host the following year, the second place nation has been offered the job. The first instance of this occurred in 1960, when 1959 runners-up United Kingdom stepped up to host the contest after winners The Netherlands declined due to expense.
This year, the silver medal went to the UK’s Sam Ryder. If the runner-up pattern is to be following, Eurovision 2023 could be hosted by the Brits.
The UK has hosted Eurovision more times than any other nation, with eight hostings across London, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Brighton and Birmingham.
On BBC’s Sunday Morning, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was honoured by the possibility of a British city hosting the contest — but expressed confidence in the Ukrainian people to make Eurovision happen in their country next year.
Kwarteng said: “Of course it would be an honour for us to host [Eurovision] but I’m very clear that President Zelensky is fully confident that Ukraine will be able to host the contest next year, and I look forward to watching it there.”
"It would be an honour to host [Eurovision] but President Zelensky is fully confident that Ukraine will be able to host the contest next year"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 15, 2022
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng discusses the prospect of the UK hosting Eurovision in 2023#SundayMorning https://t.co/dlFQBN8WKy pic.twitter.com/uBrtNrd8U6
La Vanguardia reports Spanish broadcaster Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE) has offered to host Eurovision 2023 in Spain.
María Eizaguirre, Communications Director at RTVE, said: “What has been offered is that, in the event that Ukraine could not host it, we offer ourselves as the headquarters, but the first objective is to help them in everything they need.”
Last week, Spain’s Head of Delegation Eva Mora said Spain would be prepared to host Eurovision 2023 in the event of Chanel’s victory.
Mora told wiwibloggs: “We did the best Olympic Games in history and would make a great ESC 2023. Spain has all the tourist infrastructures and we are sure that the institutions would be involved. We already have a plan to host ESC 2023.”
Eva Mora is one of the masterminds behind Benidorm Fest 2022 — Spain’s highly successful and much talked-about Eurovision selection show. It set a TV ratings high for RTVE and was trending all over social media for weeks. Budding star Chanel won the selection, and ultimately went on to place third at Eurovision — bringing Spain its best Eurovision result since 1995.
Poland has remained one of Ukraine’s closest allies during the war. As of 11 May, more than 3.2 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Polish border.
Plejada reports Chairperson of Telewizja Polska (TVP) Jacek Kurski has expressed interest in assisting Ukraine to host the contest, should they be unable to facilitate it solo.
However, the broadcaster insisted matters would need to be discussed with government before making any promises.
Kurski said: “There is always a willingness to help, but there are also procedures that bind us as a State Treasury company, a public company, we are disciplined here, and therefore I cannot make promises except generally good will in this matter.”
A Poland-Ukraine collaboration could follow the same rules in place for an Australian victory. Should Australia ever win the contest, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) will be given the chance to co-host the following year’s contest in a European city of their choice, in collaboration with another broadcaster.
This proposed collaboration between UA:PBC and TVP could enable Ukrainian event organisers to travel more easily across the border during planning phases.
Aftonbladet reports Swedish capital Stockholm, which itself is twinned with Ukrainian capital Kyiv, is prepared to host the contest.
Stockholm’s Finance Councillor Anna König Jerlmyr contacted the Ukrainian ambassador to Sweden with the offer ahead of Saturday night’s grand final, understanding the likelihood of Ukraine’s victory and potential difficulties hosting.
Jerlmyr said: “This is a way to continue to show support. We are used to arranging Eurovision and did it no later than 2016. With the experience that we feel was successful, we are happy to stand up.”
She added: “The question has begun to be asked about what will happen if Ukraine takes home the win on Saturday. We do not want people to hesitate to vote for their favorite if they have questions about whether it is possible to arrange a competition or not. So then we want Ukraine to know that they are welcome to arrange the competition in Stockholm if needed.”
Potential host venues in Stockholm include the Avicii Arena, which hosted of Eurovision 2000 and 2016, and the Friends Arena, which frequently hosts the Melodifestivalen final.
Immediately after its hosting of Eurovision 2022, Italian broadcaster Rai is throwing its hat back in the ring.
Stefano Coletta, Director of Rai 1, said: “Should a collective call be made for the edition in Ukraine, Rai will make available its know-how and the great experience it has shown in this edition.”
Mayor Stefano Lo Russo also offered Torino as a potential host, stating the city is ready to welcome Eurovision back next year should Ukraine be unable to accommodate the contest.
What do you think? Which country will host Eurovision 2023? Share your thoughts in the comment below.