Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won Eurovision 2022 by a landslide – but the EBU has confirmed the 2023 competition will be hosted elsewhere (Picture: EPA)
Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra have admitted they’re ‘surprised and disappointed’ over the decision to keep the 2023 competition out of Ukraine.
The EBU previously released a statement saying the competition could be held in the UK. On Thursday, it updated viewers, saying it is standing firm on the decision to keep the competition out of Ukraine despite an outpouring of disappointment.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleg Psyuk admitted he was ‘surprised’.
‘I’m very disappointed because we had hoped to host it in Ukraine,’ he explained.
The Ukrainian entry won Eurovision 2022 with a landslide in the televotes, receiving a well-earned congratulations from President Volodymyr Zelensky.
However, shortly after the competition, Kalush Orchestra auctioned off the trophy, raising a huge $900,000 (£700,000) to help the Ukrainian army.
Reflecting on the auction, Oleg said: ‘It’s very important to help our country at the moment.’
Speaking about the other ways the group has managed to help the Ukrainian effort, Oleg went on: ‘We help as much as we can. I have a volunteering organisation, one of my musicians is fighting on the front line, and we’re also raising donations and money from the ticket sales and we send it all to Ukraine’.
Kalush Orchestra were hoping the competition would be held in Ukraine next year (Picture: Getty Images)
Ahead of Kalush Orchestra’s upcoming performance at Glastonbury Festival, Oleg urged fans in the UK: ‘Follow our work, make sure to follow our music. Our culture is, at the moment, under attack [so] if you would like to help, listen to our work, cultural music, and follow us.’
Earlier this month, the EBU confirmed it would start discussions with the BBC about potentially hosting Eurovision in the UK.
Ukraine quickly expressed their upset at the decision, with the EBU facing criticism from Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and the head of its state broadcaster.
However, despite being aware of the ‘disappointment’ from Ukraine after finding out the 2023 contest would not be held in the winning country, the EBU has confirmed they will not be shifting their plans.
In a statement, the EBU said: ‘The decision was guided by the EBU’s responsibility to ensure the conditions are met to guarantee the safety and security of everyone working and participating in the event, the planning of which needs to begin immediately in the host country.
‘At least 10,000 people are usually accredited to work on, or at, the Eurovision Song Contest including crew, staff and journalists. A further 30,000 fans are expected to travel to the event from across the world. Their welfare is our prime concern. It is therefore critical that decisions made in relation to such a complex live television event are made by broadcasting professionals and do not become politicized.’
The statement went on to reference the contest’s official rules, which state the ESC can be moved ‘in a force majeure situation’ such as an ongoing war.
The risks the competition would face by being held in Ukraine include ‘the “severe” risk of air raids/attacks by aircraft or attacks by drones or missiles, which can cause significant casualties.’
Third-party expert security advice was also sought by the EBU, who decided the risk rating of a mass casualty event due to the ongoing conflict is ‘high’, and they cited comments made by the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, that the war in Ukraine ‘could take years.’
It went on: ‘With regards to the possibility of hosting the Contest in a border location close to a neighbouring country, the specifications of suggested venues, and the lack of the necessary surrounding infrastructure, do not meet the requirements of the ESC.
‘When drawing its conclusions, the EBU also took note that, based on our current information, no major international concert tours are visiting Ukraine throughout 2023. All this contributes to the EBU’s overall assessment that in terms of security and operational guarantees, the necessary requirements for hosting, as set out in the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest are not met.
‘Taking all of this into account the EBU, with regret, made its decision to move the event to another country and will continue discussions on finding a suitable location for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We are happy to engage further with our Ukrainian Member UA:PBC on all these issues.’
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