LONDON — Next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Britain, organizers announced on Monday, after concluding it was too risky to hold the much-loved pop extravaganza in the designated host country, the UK. Ukraine.
The UK said the 2023 event would be a celebration of Ukrainian culture and creativity.
Ukraine won the right to host the glitzy pan-continental music competition when its entry, folk-rap ensemble Kalush Orchestra, won this year’s competition in May. Briton Sam Ryder finished second.
The European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, said it had concluded that “unfortunately next year’s event cannot be held in Ukraine for safety and security reasons”. He said Britain’s BBC had agreed to air the show on behalf of Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC.
“The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will not take place in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine,” said Mykola Chernotytskyi, Chair of the Board of UA:PBC. “We are grateful to our partners at the BBC for showing solidarity with us.”
The fate of the 2023 contest had been discussed between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson said the two agreed that “wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it should celebrate the country and the people of Ukraine.”
“As we are now hosts, the UK will honor that commitment directly – and run a fantastic competition on behalf of our Ukrainian friends,” Johnson said.
Ukraine has won the contest three times and hosted Eurovision in 2005 and 2017. The contest has been held eight times in Britain, most recently in 1998, the year after the UK’s last win .
The BBC said the bid to be the host city for the 2023 contest will open next week. London, Manchester and Sheffield all said on Monday they would apply.
Founded in 1956 to help unite a continent scarred by World War II, Eurovision has grown to include more than 40 countries, including non-European nations like Israel and Australia.
Organizers strive to keep pop and politics separate – banning overtly political symbols and lyrics – but global tensions have often dogged the contest. Russia were expelled from this year’s competition due to their invasion of Ukraine in February.
——— A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Ukraine had won Eurovision twice. He won three times.
Follow all of AP’s stories on developments in the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.