In the twenty-four hours since the European Broadcasting Union announced that it will offer the United Kingdom the chance to host Eurovision 2023, the good and the great of the country have chimed in with opinions on which city should get the honour. From Scotland’s First Minister to the former mayor of Wolverhampton, everyone has a preference.
And so does the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In a surprise to many, he wants the honour to go to Ukraine.
“The Ukrainians won it fair and square, even though we had a brilliant entry, and they should be given the chance to host it,” he said.
“It’s a year away. It’s going to be fine by the time the Eurovision Song Contest comes around and I hope they get it.”
This comment glosses over the reality that it takes a full year to organise the Eurovision Song Contest — an expensive endeavour that can run into the tens of millions of euros. Producers don’t just show up the week before the contest with some hammers and glue.
“I believe that they can have it, and I believe that they should have it. I believe that Kyiv, or any other safe Ukrainian city, would be a fantastic place to have it.”
Mr Johnson was speaking at a Royal Air force Base north-west of London shortly after returning from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. During his time in Ukraine he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, promising new military aid and offering to train up to ten thousand Ukrainian soldiers every four months.
Bojo’s words echo the sentiments of the Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne and the country’s Minister of Culture, who issued a strongly worded statement on Friday that called on the EBU to reverse its decision to take the contest elsewhere.
Oleksandr Tkachenko said:
“We honestly won Eurovision and have fulfilled all the conditions within the deadlines for the process of approving its holding in Ukraine — we have provided answers and guarantees on safety standards and possible venues for the competition.”
? FLASH POLL: If #Eurovision 2023 is held in the UK, which city should host? ? ??— wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) June 17, 2022
But the EBU doesn’t agree. In its statement announcing its decision, the EBU said:
“Given the ongoing war since the Russian invasion of this year’s winning country, the EBU has taken the time to conduct a full assessment and feasibility study with both UA:PBC and third-party specialists including on safety and security issues.”
“The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most complex TV productions in the world with thousands working on, and attending, the event and 12 months of preparation time needed.”
“Following objective analysis, the Reference Group, the ESC’s governing board, has with deep regret concluded that, given the current circumstances, the security and operational guarantees required for a broadcaster to host, organize and produce the Eurovision Song Contest under the ESC Rules cannot be fulfilled by UA:PBC.”
Mr Tkachenko also claimed there was a lack of consultation, writing that “we were confronted with the fact without discussion of other options.”
But on Friday Sietse Bakker, a producer of Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam and a member of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, disputed that.
Appearing on Dutch TV show Humberto, he said there had been “extensive consultations” with Ukraine’s organising team and that they “had a chance to answer a lot of questions.”
Are you surprised by Mr Johnson’s statement? Do you agree with him? Let us know in the comments box below.