Boris Johnson says Ukraine ‘can and should’ host Eurovision 2023

Boris Johnson
British prime minister Boris Johnson. (Image credit: Joe Giddens - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has dampened the exciting notion that the United Kingdom will hold the Eurovision Song Contest Final 2023 next year in place of 2022 winners Ukraine, saying he believes ‘Ukraine can have it’.

It’s been revealed that the BBC is in talks with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) about hosting Eurovision while Ukraine is at war with Russia.

The EBU said it conducted a study with Ukraine’s state broadcaster Suspilne Movlennia and others and concluded that a war-torn country could not offer the ‘security and operational guarantees’ required to put on Eurovision.

Ukraine won the right to host the final in 2023 because their entry Kalush Orchestra won this year’s final with their song, Stefania, while UK’s Sam Ryder singing Space Man came second but was the jury’s choice.

Sam Ryder playing the guitar during the Eurovision 2022 Grand Finale.

Sam Ryder. (Image credit: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said his country want the EBU to change the decision ‘because we believe we will be able to fulfil all our obligations’ – and British Prime Minister Johnson agreed.

Talking to reporters at RAF Brize Norton on his return from a short trip to Kyiv, Johnson said: “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 a even few weeks ago,” the Prime Minister said.

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

News that the BBC and EBU were in talks created a clamour among British cities for the right to host Eurovision, with London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds showing interest in putting the show on.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said ‘Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms’ and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “We wish @Eurovision could be in Ukraine but understand that in circumstances this isn’t possible.

“However, I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!!”

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.