The next Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) will not take place in this year’s winner, Ukraine, because of the Russian war of aggression. This was announced by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) on Friday in Geneva. Instead, they want to hold talks with the BBC as to whether the ESC 2023 can be held in Great Britain. The Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) also confirmed the decision of the EBU.

In mid-May, the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the 66th ESC in Turin, Italy, with the hip-hop song “Stefania”, which, according to ESC tradition, would have set their country to host the competition the following year.

Especially in the audience ratings from all over Europe, the band was clearly ahead. Against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the event had not been more political than it had been for a long time, and the clear victory was also understood as a signal of solidarity by the audience in dozens of countries. Russia had been excluded from the ESC because of the war.

Many war-torn Ukrainians enthusiastically celebrated the ESC victory. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the Telegram news channel: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine hosts Eurovision! For the third time in our history.”

But nothing will come of it now. “In view of the ongoing war since the Russian invasion of this year’s winner country”, the EBU claims to have taken the time to check with the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC and other stakeholders how feasible it is to hold the ESC 2023 in Ukraine . There were also safety aspects. It was with deep regret that the broadcaster had come to the conclusion that the broadcaster could not guarantee the safety and operational guarantees under the current circumstances, the broadcasting union said.

The Ukrainian Minister of Culture Olexander Tkachenko has now called for the relocation to be withdrawn. “Because we believe that we can fulfill all the obligations we have taken on, which we have repeatedly emphasized to the EBU,” Tkachenko wrote on Facebook on Friday .

“We gave answers and guarantees about the safety standards and the possible venue for the competition.”

Hosting it in Ukraine would send a strong signal to the whole world, which is supporting the country right now. Kyiv demands additional talks.

If nothing changes in the decision, Great Britain could move up as hosts as runners-up from Turin. Discussions with the BBC about a possible hosting of the competition in the United Kingdom will now be initiated, the EBU said. Ukraine’s victory at ESC 2022 should be reflected in the shows.

More on the Ukraine war at Tagesspiegel Plus:

It is a tradition at the ESC that the winner’s country usually hosts the competition next year. But this is not a compulsory obligation. In the past, winners – for example because of the high cost of the spectacle – waived their right and passed the competition on to other participants. The British BBC stepped in as early as 1974. At that time, last year’s winner Luxembourg had renounced because a Grand Prix had already taken place there in 1973. The 1974 festival in Brighton went down in pop history with Abba’s performance of “Waterloo”.