Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder reminded fans that next year’s competition will still be “Ukraine’s party” after it was announced that it would be held in the UK in 2023.
The British singer said he had a “heavy heart” knowing the world-famous song couldn’t compete in Ukraine but was quick to say Britain would be part of a group of “loving facilitators”.
The organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), had previously decided that the event could not be held in war-torn Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
This was despite Ukraine’s Kalosh Orchestra winning a competition in Turin, Italy that year.
“Hey guys, just a couple of thoughts,” Ryder said in an Instagram video.
“This is a Ukrainian party, we’re just inviting them to throw it at our house.
“I know how much it meant to Kalush and the Ukrainian delegation that it will be held next year at home in Ukraine.
“I’m not the only one whose heart is heavy knowing that this may not happen at this time.
He added: “We know how to throw a party here in the UK and our enthusiasm is only limited by focusing on the single purpose of hosting an event that celebrates Ukrainian culture, history. Always ready to lend a helping hand wherever needed and to stand in solidarity with music and the rest of the world that shines a unified light.
“The rest of us are just loving facilitators and I have no doubt in my mind that we will all come together in the spirit of unity that Eurovision has always been to celebrate the wonderful people of Ukraine.”
Ryder’s message comes as several major UK cities, including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds, throw their hats into the ring to host Eurovision.
The bidding process will begin this week, with the BBC and EBU jointly making the final decision on which city will host.
Any winner will need a large event space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for the competing countries and their delegations.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said his city was “prepared and ready to compete” with the competition “celebrating the people of Ukraine and showcasing the best of Britain”.
Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, tweeted that the “world class music city” has experience of hosting such major events and is “confident we will make this a #eurovision to remember”.
Sheffield City Council was among the first to announce a bid, saying on Twitter: “We’ve told Eurovision we’d love to host… watch this space.”
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said the city was the “obvious choice” because of its international airport and the fact it is twinned with the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
Leeds City Council added that it made “perfect sense” for them to host next year as they will be City of Culture for 2023.
Scotland’s two biggest cities, Glasgow and Aberdeen, have also announced they are bidding to host the competition in 2023.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said the city was a “safe match” for the event after hosting Cop26 last November, while Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously backed the city to host, tweeting Doing: “I can think of a perfect location. (The) banks of the River Clyde!!”
Swindon Borough Council also considered that they were “flattered” to be considered online but would not be bidding for the honor of hosting duties.
The 2023 contest will be the ninth time Eurovision has been held in the UK – more than any other country.
Ukraine will automatically qualify for the grand final along with the so-called Big Five nations – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – each of which gets a free pass to the event thanks to their financial support.
Eurovision Executive Supervisor, Martin Osterdahl said: “We are incredibly grateful that the BBC has agreed to host the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK in 2023.
“The BBC has taken over hosting duties for other winning countries on four previous occasions.”
In a statement, BBC Director General Tim Davey said: “The BBC is committed to making this event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture, while showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”
UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As host, the UK will respect the spirit and diversity of the competition, and most importantly ensure that it reflects Ukraine’s recent Eurovision triumph and Ukrainian creativity. reflects.”
The competition in May this year saw Ryder top the jury vote before the Kalosh Orchestra won overall after a symbolic show of public support saw them take first place with 631 points.
They have been at the forefront since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February – prompting organizers to ban Russian entries from competing.
It is not yet clear whether the BBC will have to fund the competition from its existing license fee allocation or whether it will be given more money, although discussions are ongoing with the government on the matter.