The Welsh Conservatives have said the withdrawal of Cardiff’s bid to host Eurovision 2023 is “really disappointing” as it could have been a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to put the nation on the map.
On Wednesday, Cardiff Council, the Welsh Government and the Principality Stadium released a joint statement announcing they had been exploring the viability of bringing the song contest to Wales’s capital city, but will not proceed due to the “complexity of staging the event”.
Welsh Conservative member of the Senedd Tom Giffard, the shadow culture minister, said the withdrawal shows a “lack of ambition” from the Labour government and asked if other cities had been considered.
I’m not surprised to see their continued lack of ambition in bringing a highlight of the global cultural calendar to Wales
Mr Giffard said: “Bringing Eurovision to Wales is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put our nation on the map, and to see the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council fail to deliver it is really disappointing.
“Whilst I understand that there were particular challenges in bringing the whole event to Cardiff, it doesn’t seem that the Welsh Government looked at any options outside of the capital city.
“The semi-finals may have been able to have been held in the new Swansea Arena, for example. But this avenue doesn’t seem to have been explored.
“The Welsh Labour Government has always been lukewarm on the idea of bringing Eurovision to Wales, as they demonstrated in our Senedd debate on the subject back in June.
“Given the way Labour is attacking our tourism industry at the moment, I’m not surprised to see their continued lack of ambition in bringing a highlight of the global cultural calendar to Wales.”
It was announced last month that the UK will host the song contest on behalf of Ukraine as the organisers from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decided the event could not be held in the war-torn country after the Russian invasion.
Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra won this year’s competition in Turin, Italy, with the UK’s Sam Ryder coming runner-up.
Many cities across the UK have launched bids to host the event including London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Cheryl Baker, who was part of Bucks Fizz when they won Eurovision in 1981, had previously suggested Cardiff would be a good place to host the competition.
In a statement shared on Wednesday, Cardiff Council, the Welsh Government and the Principality Stadium said they worked quickly to “establish the feasibility” of a bid from Wales’s capital city, noting its “very strong track record in hosting major events” and saying the “world-class” stadium made it a “natural fit” for the event.
However, they added: “The complexity of staging the event means that a significant number of scheduled events in the Principality Stadium during spring 2023 would have to be cancelled as a result.”
They added that after exploring potential options with the BBC to accommodate the existing schedule, they were unable to find a solution and had collectively agreed that Cardiff could not go forward with the bid.
The council, the Welsh Government and the Principality Stadium have all been approached for comment.