Eurovision 2023: calls for Ukrainian refugees and UK host families to get front row seats at competition

Eurovision 2023 cannot be held in Ukraine as a result of the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia

Ukrainian refugees and their UK host families should get front row seats at Eurovision 2023, according to a UK-based think tank and charity.

The suggestion comes after the European Broadcasting Union announced that next year’s competition could not be held in Ukraine, (despite Kalush Orchestra taking home the gold at this year’s competition in Italy), as a result of its invasion by Russia.

Instead, the UK will host the international singing contest on behalf of the war-torn country, after 2022 entrant Sam Ryder came second.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won 2022 Eurovision, hosted in Italy

At the time of the announcement, Sam Ryder 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.”

Because Ukraine can no longer follow the tradition of hosting, British Future, a think tank and charity concerned with issues surrounding integration, immigation, identity and race, has suggested a ‘priority tickets’ system for the 2023 competition.

This would see the best tickets for the event allocated to Ukrainian refugees living in the UK as well as to the host families who have offered them a place to stay under the Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.

Sam Ryder said his heart was ‘heavy’ knowing that Ukraine could not host Eurovision in 2023

The proposed initiative, named ‘Welcomers Eurovision,’ has been designed to celebrate the welcoming efforts from those in Britain and other European nations who have offered their homes to refugees who have fled Ukraine.

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 cooperation between European neighbours.”

He added that the public’s response to the crisis in Ukraine is something “we can all be proud of.”

Ukraine will automatically qualify for the grand final of Eurovision 2023 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.

Crowds gathered to watch Kalush Orchestra, Eurovision winners from Ukraine, perform at Glastonbury

The host city for the 2023 event is expected to be announced by the autumn, but the shortlist of possible cities was revealed on today’s BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield will all by vying to host the annual music competition.

The BBC reported that 20 cities expressed an interest, with London and Belfast amongst those which did not make the shortlist.

The Welcomers Eurovision proposal is part of a new list of recommendations published by British Future called ‘Seizing The Moment: Why events matter for social connection and shared identity’.