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Why Eurovision 2023 Coming to the UK Would Be a Good Move

Last month, Ukraine won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, with their entry, Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania,” gaining a massive 631 points at Turin’s PalaOlimpico. The win was a popular one and was celebrated by music fans and cultural commentators alike.

Under the usual rules, the winning country has the right to stage the competition the following year, which would ordinarily leave the Eurovision cognoscenti paying a visit to Kyiv, Odesa, or Dnipro next May. But with the current turmoil wracking the country in mind, last week, it was suggested that the United Kingdom might step in and host next year’s Eurovision instead. Here’s why that’s a good idea.


A Nation Under Siege

The war between Russia and Ukraine that began with the former’s invasion earlier this year is about to run into its fifth month and has seen unspeakable violence and suffering, with Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv coming within a whisker of being captured by Russian troops before dogged Ukrainian resistance forced their withdrawal in early April. Ukraine’s infrastructure is in tatters, its grain ships are unable to sail due to a Russian blockade, and over one in three of the country’s population has been displaced. At the time of writing, Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a bitter fight in the east, much of which has already been overrun by Russian troops.

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It comes as no surprise that, under such conditions, Ukraine’s rich film, TV, and music sectors are struggling. Kyiv’s Palace of Sports and International Exhibition Center played host to Eurovision in 2005 and again in 2017, respectively. Still, it is unclear what conditions will be like in Kyiv a year from now. The Russian assault that took place on the capital in February and March profoundly disrupted transmissions, with news channel Ukraine 24 having to broadcast from its backup studio due to airstrikes close to its main facility. Only this week, shelling in Donetsk brought down a television tower, causing a transmission blackout.

Ukrainian officials have recently expressed the hope that staging Eurovision would still be possible. Still, under the circumstances, broadcasters are looking elsewhere for a country that would be willing to host Eurovision 2023 on Ukraine’s behalf.

An Alternative Eurovision Host

As an alternative host, the United Kingdom fits the bill. Having come second with TikTok star Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” in May, they would be the logical choice to host. Furthermore, the UK is one of the European Broadcasting Union’s “Big Five,” along with Germany, Spain, Italy, and France, being one of the principal contributors to Eurovision (the controversial Brexit vote did not affect the UK’s membership in the EBU).

Related: Eurovision Song Contest 2022: What to Expect From This Year’s Competition

And although the UK has not won Eurovision since 1997 and has spent most of the last twenty years in the lower reaches of the points tallies every May (including five last-place finishes and an embarrassing zero points result for Brit Award winner James Newman in 2021), the Brits are dab hands when it comes to Eurovision broadcasts. It has performed the feat on eight occasions in the past – more than any other country. The last time was in 1998, when the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham hosted a well-received competition won by transgender Israeli singer Dana International.

A Wave of Interest From British Cities

A procession of British cities and venues have expressed interest in hosting the contest, from big cities such as London, Birmingham, and Leeds, to the seaside resort of Brightonwhich hosted ABBA’s big Eurovision win in 1974. Its mayor has officially expressed an interest in hosting and has announced the intention to contact the EBU and the BBC. Manchester also has a strong case, with multiple large indoor venues to choose from, excellent media links (the city is a regional media hub, and the BBC has a headquarters in the city), and a large Ukrainian population resident in the region.

Outside England, there is likewise a considerable interest in hosting. Wales’ capital city, Cardiff, is no stranger to big televisual extravaganzas, having hosted the likes of U2, Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Rolling Stones, and Rihanna in addition to the more usual rugby and soccer matches at its iconic Millennium Stadium. The venue ought to be plenty big enough for Eurovision crowds, and has a retractable roof to keep out the capricious British weather.

In Scotland, meanwhile, Glasgow has expressed an interest in hosting, with the 12,000-seat Hydro being touted as a good fit for the event. Indeed, Eurovision fans should know the Hydro well. Its exterior is featured in the Will Ferrell movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Sagareleased on Netflix two years ago.

Whatever happens, Eurovision 2023 will be in good hands.

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