With 2022’s Eurovision over and Ukraine victorious, all eyes will now turn to next year’s contest – but organisers are facing difficult decisions over where it should be held.
Traditionally the country that wins the contest is offered the right to host the next year, but the victory of Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra in Turin could leave that decision marred in political tensions amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
There is no end date in sight for the conflict, which has already dragged on for three months, while some experts fear it may last into next year.
And hosting the contest comes with the complex challenges of finding a big enough venue, constructing a TV-ready stage, ensuring the safety of 40 international delegations, and building infrastructure to cater for tens of thousands of fans and workers.
Could Eurovision 2023 be hosted in Ukraine?
Kalush themselves have led calls for the contest to make a display of support by heading to their homeland.
Rapper Oleh Psyuk told the winners’ press conference on Saturday: “I’m sure that next year, Ukraine will be happy to host Europe in the new integrated and happy Ukraine.”
Choosing a host city is usually a difficult process involving both Eurovision bosses and the host nation’s broadcaster, with negotiations “down to the finest detail” to ensure the contest can take place to standard.
The process can take months, with Turin only confirmed in October 2021 to host this year’s contest after a long bidding process among Italian cities.
Organisers stipulate that the venue should accommodate around 10,000 spectators and the city should be within easy reach of an international airport, with hotel accommodation for 2,000 delegates, accredited journalists and spectators.
In peacetime, Ukraine has shown itself more than capable of meeting those requirements, hosting the 2017 contest at the International Exhibition Centre in the capital city Kyiv.
But if the conflict in Ukraine continues to rage into next year, bosses from the European Broadcasting Union are likely to be wary about ushering stars from across the continent into a city where Russian air raids are still a threat and many buildings are reduced to rubble.
Hosting the contest in Ukraine so soon would undoubtedly be a PR coup for President Zelensky – but even if the conflict is resolved in time, Ukrainian officials may be wary of draining resources away from the important task of reconstructing the nation’s infrastructure and restoring its battle-scarred cities to welcome back the millions of Ukrainian civilians who have been forced to flee their home.
Could the UK or another country host Eurovision 2023?
If a contest within Ukraine itself is ruled out, it is likely that Ukraine’s broadcaster UA:PBC would be offered the chance to “host” the contest in partnership with another national broadcaster.
This arrangement, similar to the plans thought to be in place in case of an Australian victory, could see Ukrainian hosts, theming and video postcards present on the night despite the contest taking place elsewhere.
In the case of Australia, it was previously understood that Germany or the UK could be the nation of choice, as both have large broadcasters willing to bear the cost of hosting.
But Ukraine may have different calculations. Hosting the contest in Poland, which is home to millions of Ukrainian refugees, could prove an attractive option.
As a close ally of Ukraine and the runner-up in Saturday’s contest, a partnership with the UK may also be an option under consideration.
Will a future contest take place in Ukraine?
Welcoming the win on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed hope that the nation will one day host the contest in a “free, rebuilt” Mariupol.
He wrote: “We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt!
“Thank you for winning the Kalush Orchestra and everyone who voted for us!”
If the contest does not go ahead in Ukraine in 2023, EBU bosses could promise to return to the country in future.
Martin Österdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, said in a statement that the organisation’s attention turned to next year’s competition and its “unique challenges”.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is the only cultural event that truly unites Europe. This year it’s been more important than ever to bring millions together through our common values and love of music.
“Now we will begin planning for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC.
“Obviously, there are unique challenges involved in hosting next year’s competition.”