Leeds to bid to host Eurovision Song Contest 2023 after Ukraine

Sam Ryder at the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Turin.
Sam Ryder celebrates at this year's contest.

Officials in Leeds say the city will bid to host the Eurovision Song Contest next year after a decision that Ukraine would be unable to do so.

As winners of this year's competition, Ukraine also secured the nominal right to hold the 2023 extravaganza.

But the ongoing uncertainty caused by Russia's invasion of the country meant the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) concluded the "security and operational guarantees" required to host could not be met by Ukraine’s public broadcaster, UA:PBC.

As the UK were runners-up, the EBU has begun discussions with the BBC to potentially host next year.

And Leeds has put itself forward as an early contender to be the city of choice should the competition come to the UK.

In a joint statement, council leader James Lewis and Cllr Jonathan Pryor, the council’s executive member for culture, said it would come at the perfect time for the city.

The First Direct Arena in Leeds would be the venue. Credit: @fdarena

'It could not come at a better time'

They said: "It goes without saying that Leeds will be bidding to host Eurovision in 2023.

"Together with ASM Global, the operators of the First Direct Arena in Leeds, we have already been in touch with both the government and the BBC to discuss our plans. 

"Leeds has already proved that it has the capability and capacity to host major international events and ASM Global successfully hosted Eurovision in the Avicii Arena, Stockholm, Sweden, in 2016.

"Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 year of culture, it could not come at a better time."

The Ukrainian entry of Kalush Orchestra won the competition in Turin, Italy, this year. Traditionally the winning country hosts the event the following year.

The UK’s Sam Ryder – who topped the jury vote – finished second, after a symbolic show of public support gave Ukraine a first place with 631 points.

Sam Ryder finished in second place in this year's competition. Credit: PA

They had been the frontrunners since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February – which prompted organisers to ban the Russian entrant from competing.

In their statement, the Leeds councillors said: "We are extremely disappointed that Ukraine will be unable to host in 2023, but it would be an honour to host on behalf of them, especially given that West Yorkshire is home to a large number of Ukrainians.

"If we are successful with our bid, we will be looking to get the local Ukrainian community involved with our plans as much as possible."

It would be the ninth time the UK had hosted the event – more than any other country – and not the first in Yorkshire.

When Eurovision came to Harrogate

The 27th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Harrogate in 1982, following the UK's victory at the 1981 contest with the song Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz.

Held at the Harrogate International Centre, it was hosted by TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming.

Eighteen countries took part, with Germany claiming victory with the song Ein Bischen Frieden (a bit of peace).

The UK's entry – One Step Further, by Bardo – came seventh.

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