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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Alamy Stock Photo The Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine, winners of this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

EBU defends decision not to hold Eurovision in Ukraine, citing high risk of mass casualty event

The decision has been criticised by the Ukrainian government, which said it had provided guarantees on safety standards.

THE EUROPEAN BROADCASTING Union (EBU) has defended its decision not to hold the next Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine, citing a ‘severe risk’ of attacks by aircraft or missiles.

The move has been criticised by the Ukrainian government, which said it will challenge the decision. 

Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko last week said Ukraine’s entry this year, The Kalush Orchestra, had “honestly won Eurovision” and that the country has fulfilled all the conditions within the deadlines for the process of approving its holding in Ukraine.

He said the government had provided answers and guarantees on safety standards and possible venues for the competition.

“We will demand to change this decision, because we believe that we will be able to fulfil all the commitments… We demand additional negotiations on hosting Eurovision-2023 in Ukraine,” he said.

In a statement today, the EBU said it understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement, but that it has a responsibility to ensure conditions are met to guarantee the safety and security of everyone working and participating in the event.

“At least 10,000 people are usually accredited to work on, or at, the Eurovision Song Contest including crew, staff and journalists,” it said. A further 30,000 fans are expected to travel to the event from across the world. Their welfare is our prime concern.

“It is therefore critical that decisions made in relation to such a complex live television event are made by broadcasting professionals and do not become politicised.”

It said the security questionnaire completed by Ukraine had highlighted a number of risks that would impact the immediate planning for such a large event, including “the severe risk of air raids/attacks by aircraft or attacks by drones or missiles, which can cause significant casualties”.

The EBU also sought third-party expert security advice which stated that the counter measures proposed to mitigate the threats planning the event in Ukraine were insufficient for an international public event and the risk rating of a mass casualty event due to the ongoing conflict is “high”.

“Alongside the security concerns, the continued conflict in Ukraine makes delegations and participants reluctant to travel to the country. We also noted the comments made by the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, that the war in Ukraine “could take years,” the EBU said.

“With regards to the possibility of hosting the contest in a border location close to a neighbouring country, the specifications of suggested venues, and the lack of the necessary surrounding infrastructure, do not meet the requirements of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“When drawing its conclusions, the EBU also took note that, based on our current information, no major international concert tours are visiting Ukraine throughout 2023.

“All this contributes to the EBU’s overall assessment that in terms of security and operational guarantees, the necessary requirements for hosting, as set out in the Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest are not met.”

The EBU is currently considering alternative locations for next year’s event and has said it could “potentially” be hosted by the UK.

Speaking to The Journal last month, EBU Director General Noel Curran said there are a number of “milestones” that a host country has to meet including venue, financing and safety. 

“We have milestones for everybody in terms of dates when certain milestones have to be met, and whoever wins we will sit down and go through it with them,” he said.


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