In the aftermath of its decision to revoke Ukraine’s right to host Eurovision 2023, the European Broadcasting Union has faced criticism from Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and the head of its state broadcaster. British Prime Minister Borish Johnson and his culture chief subsequently chimed in, agreeing with Ukraine’s top-brass that it should be given the chance to host the song contest next year.
Well the EBU has now hit back, providing further insight into why it has decided to offer the hosting gig to the BBC — the UK state broadcaster.
Among other things, it cites a severe risk of “air raids/attacks by aircraft or attacks by drones or missiles, which can cause significant casualties.”
Understandably, this security threat would likely make a number of delegations and participants uncomfortable next May, thereby threatening the participation of several broadcasters.
We are re-publishing the entire EBU statement below.
Eurovision 2023: EBU statement cites mass casualty risk in Ukraine
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.