Charity calls for Ukrainian refugees to have front row seats at Eurovision 2023

·3 min read

A UK-based think tank and charity has called for Ukrainian refugees and their UK host families to be given “priority tickets” to Eurovision 2023.

The event’s organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), previously decided the event cannot be held in Ukraine following the Russian invasion and the UK will instead host the competition on behalf of the war-torn country.

A shortlist of possible host cities are set to be announced on Friday, with Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield having all entered bids to host the annual music competition.

British Future, a think tank and charity concerned with issues surrounding integration and immigration, identity and race, has proposed Welcomers Eurovision – an initiative designed to celebrate the welcoming efforts from those in Britain and other European nations who have offered their homes to Ukrainian refugees.

As part of Welcomers Eurovision, priority tickets to Eurovision 2023 would be allocated to Ukrainian refugees in the UK and to the host families who have offered them a place to stay under the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Speaking about the proposed initiative, the director of British Future Sunder Katwala said: “The 2023 Eurovision is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the warm welcome that thousands of Brits have offered to Ukrainians fleeing the war.

“Britain is hosting the contest on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine – what better way to embody that than by inviting some of the thousands of citizens who are now hosting Ukrainian families in their homes?

“Nothing could be more in the Eurovision spirit of friendship and co-operation between European neighbours.

“The public’s response to the crisis in Ukraine – and indeed the thousands of others across the UK who are helping to welcome other new arrivals, from Hong Kong, Afghanistan and elsewhere – is something we can all be proud of.”

The shortlist of possible Eurovision 2023 host cities will be announced on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show on August 12.

Ukraine’s entry Kalush Orchestra triumphed at this year’s competition in Turin, Italy.

As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the UK was given the chance to host Eurovision for the ninth time – more than any other country – after their 2022 entrant Sam Ryder came second in the competition.

Speaking previously about the UK being given the chance to host the contest, Ryder, 33, said: “It’s Ukraine’s 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 would be held at home in Ukraine next year.

“I’m not the only one whose heart is heavy knowing that that can’t be the case at this moment in time.”

The Welcomers Eurovision proposal is part of a new list of recommendations published in a British Future report – Seizing the moment: Why events matter for social connection and shared identity – published as a submission to the Power of Events Inquiry by London 2012 legacy organisation Spirit of 2012.

Ukraine will automatically qualify for the grand final alongside the so-called big five nations – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

The host city is expected to be announced by the autumn.