As the shortlist of cities in the running to host the 2023 Eurovision song contest is announced today, campaigners are calling called for next year’s event to be a ‘Welcomers Eurovision’, with priority tickets allocated to Ukrainian refugees in the UK and the host families who are providing them a place to stay under the popular ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.
As revealed today on BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, one of Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle or Sheffield will be the host city for the Eurovision Song Contest next spring. The global music contest will be held in the UK after organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) ruled that it could be safely held in Ukraine, who won the 2022 Eurovision. The shortlist of prospective host cities will be announced on the BBC 2 Breakfast Show today (12 August).
This would be the perfect moment to celebrate the warm welcome that people in Britain and many other European nations have offered to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Warm-up events, qualifying rounds and ‘fan zone’ events on the night could take place in locations around the country and take a similar approach, with Ukrainians and their hosts invited to take part.
Latest government figures show that 107,900 refugees have arrived in the UK under the Ukraine Scheme – the largest number of refugees to come to the UK from one country at one time since the First World War. More than 100,000 people in Britain offered homes to Ukrainian refugees in the first 24 hours after the government launched the Homes for Ukraine scheme that allows families and individuals to bring people to the UK.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:
“The 2023 Eurovision in the UK 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.
“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 ‘Welcomers Eurovision’ proposal is one of the recommendations in a new 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. The Inquiry examines how major events – from the Jubilee and Commonwealth Games to the Eurovision song contest next year – can have positive, lasting social impacts.
Polling by Focaldata finds that 62% of people feel that major events like the Jubilee and sporting tournaments bring people from different backgrounds together. Some 23 million people in the UK joined in celebrations of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.
The report also examines in detail how major events can help to bridge divides and bring people together. It features further recommendations for activities to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush next year and how the Euro 2028 football tournament, which the UK and Ireland hope to host jointly, could be an important showcase for the power and potential of sport to help promote social contact between people from different backgrounds.