Boris Johnson Says He Thinks Ukraine 'Can And Should' Host Eurovision In 2023

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Eurovision victors Kalush Orchestra (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)
Eurovision victors Kalush Orchestra (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)

Eurovision victors Kalush Orchestra (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has said Ukraine should be given the opportunity to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, as organisers confirmed that they were beginning discussions about holding the event in the UK.

Last month, Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra stormed ahead at Eurovision, with the British representative Sam Ryder finishing in a respectable second place.

Speculation soon began about whether the competition would be able to take place in Ukraine in 2022, amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

On Friday, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a public statement that they had conducted a “full assessment and feasibility study” with Ukrainian state broadcaster UA:PBC.

However, it concluded that after “exploring all scenarios” with the network, they shared “their sadness and disappointment that next year’s Contest cannot be held in Ukraine”.

“As a result of this decision, in accordance with the rules and to ensure the continuity of the event, the EBU will now begin discussions with the BBC, as this year’s runner-up, to potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in the United Kingdom,” they added.

While a No.10 spokesperson previously insisted they “welcomed” the idea of hosting Eurovision in the UK, Johnson claimed on Saturday morning that he’d like to see the event take place in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters shortly after returning from an unannounced visit to Kyiv, Johnson explained: “I have just been to Kyiv. I won’t say it is completely jiving and buzzing and popping but it is far, far more lively. People are much more confident. People are out in the streets eating in cafes and restaurants in a way that they weren’t even few weeks ago.

“The Ukrainians won the Eurovision Song Contest. I know we had a fantastic entry, I know we came second and I’d love it to be in this country. But the fact is that they won and they deserve to have it.”

He added: “I believe that they can have it and I believe that they should have it. I believe Kyiv or any other safe Ukrainian city would be a fantastic place to have it.”

Boris Johnson (Photo: Leon Neal via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson (Photo: Leon Neal via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson (Photo: Leon Neal via Getty Images)

Following the EBU’s statement, a representative for the Ukrainian broadcaster claimed they’d been “denied the right” to host the contest and called for negotiations on a new location to be put on hold.

“We are disappointed with this decision of the EBU,” they said. “During this month, a large number of people in Ukraine have thrown all their efforts to fulfil the conditions for holding Eurovision in our country. Security is, of course, our first priority.

“The team of UA:PBC, state and local authorities did a thorough job and offered different options. It is a pity to see such an unappealable statement, therefore, we ask our partners to hold further negotiations.”

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said last month he wanted to see the 2023 event going ahead in Ukraine, comments which were echoed by the Kalush Orchestra.

Since debuting in the competition in 2003, Ukraine has racked up three wins, with Kyiv consequently hosting the Eurovision live final in both 2005 and 2017.

This article has been updated to include a comment from UA:PBC.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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