GENEVA (AFP) - The Eurovision Song Contest's organisers confirmed on Thursday (June 23) that the 2023 edition cannot be held in Ukraine due to the Russian war, despite angry protests from Kyiv.
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra last month won the world's biggest live music event, and by convention, the country should host the kitsch annual pop extravaganza next year.
But on June 17, the European Broadcasting Union said the war-torn country would not be able to host the 2023 show - triggering upset among fans across the continent and demands from the Ukrainian government to reverse the decision.
"The EBU fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement that the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest cannot be staged in Ukraine, this year's winning country," it said in a statement.
"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," it explained.
The EBU said more than 10,000 people are usually accredited to work on Eurovision, 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 said.
Mass casualty risk
Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision final on May 15 in Turin, thanks to the votes from national panels of judges and the general public, with European audiences demonstrating their solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion.
The EBU said Eurovision's rules clearly state that an event can be moved in situations such as an ongoing war.
The union said the severe risk of air attacks and the high risk of a mass casualty event factored into the decision, while the conflict would make delegations and participants reluctant to go to Ukraine.
As for hosting the contest in a border location within Ukraine, the specifications of suggested venues and the lack of surrounding infrastructure, do not meet Eurovision's needs.
"All this contributes to the EBU's overall assessment that in terms of security and operational guarantees, the necessary requirements for hosting... are not met."
The EBU said it would keep searching for a suitable location for the next Eurovision, but said earlier this month that it was considering the possibility of the contest being held in Britain, which finished second.
Founded in 1950, the Geneva-based EBU is the world's biggest public service media alliance. It has 112 member organisations in 56 countries, plus 31 associates in Asia, Africa and the Americas.