Eurovision 2023: calls for Ukrainian refugees to get front row seats

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Eurovision 2023 cannot take place in Ukraine due to the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia

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

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The proposal comes after the European Broadcasting Union announced that next year’s competition could not be held in Ukraine (although the Kalush Orchestra took home gold at this year’s competition in Italy) as it was occupied by Russia.

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The Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest held in Italy in 2022

At the time of the announcement, Ryder said: “It’s Ukraine’s party, we just invite them to throw it with us.

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“I know how much it meant to Kalush and the Ukrainian delegation that next year it would be held at home in Ukraine.

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

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As Ukraine can no longer follow the tradition of hosting, British Future, a think tank and charity working on issues related to integration, immigration, identity and race, has a “priority ticket” scheme for the 2023 competition suggested.

This would award the best tickets to the event to Ukrainian refugees living in the UK, as well as host families who have offered them a place to stay under the government’s Homes for Ukraine programme.

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Sam Ryder said his heart was “heavy” knowing Ukraine could not host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest

The proposed initiative, dubbed “Welcomers Eurovision,” aims to celebrate the efforts to welcome people in the UK and other European countries who have offered homes to refugees who have fled Ukraine.

British Future director Sunder Katwala said: “The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the warm welcome thousands of Britons gave to Ukrainians fleeing the war.

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“Britain is hosting the competition on behalf of the 2022 winner, Ukraine – what better way to embody that than to invite some of the thousands of citizens who are now hosting Ukrainian families into their homes.

“Nothing could be more in the spirit of Eurovision of friendship and cooperation between European neighbours.”

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

Ukraine automatically qualifies for the Eurovision 2023 grand final along with the so-called ‘Big Five’ nations – Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each receive a free ticket based on their financial contributions to the event.

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Crowds gathered to see the Kalush Orchestra, Eurovision winners from Ukraine, perform in Glastonbury

The host city for the 2023 event is expected to be announced in the autumn, but the shortlist of possible cities will be announced on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show this morning (12 August).

Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield have all applied to host the annual music competition.

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

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