President Zelensky says Poland or Slovakia would have been better Eurovision hosts than Britain
- Zelensky said he would have preferred a host country bordering Ukraine
- The final of the competition will now take place in Liverpool on Saturday
President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he would have preferred a country on the outskirts of Ukraine to host the Eurovision Song Contest rather than Britain.
Mr Zelensky said that Poland or Slovakia would have been a better choice to host the singing contest as Ukrainian citizens could attend.
The UK stepped forward to host this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on its behalf after finishing runner-up to Ukraine, which won the contest last year.
The final of the competition will now take place in Liverpool on Saturday after it became clear that the war-torn country would not be able to host the event.
The Ukrainian president’s comments came despite news that the UK would supply the war-torn country with Storm Shadow long-range missiles, becoming the first country to do so.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would have preferred a country bordering Ukraine to host this week’s Eurovision Song Contest than Britain
Britain’s Alesha Dixon (left) and Hannah Waddingham (right) will now host the game from the Liverpool Arena on Saturday night alongside Ukraine’s Julia Sanina (centre)
Ukrainian singer Mariya Yaremchuk (left) performs on stage during the second semifinal of the 67th annual Eurovision Song Contest at Liverpool Arena, May 11, 2023
Mr Zelensky told the BBC: ‘I have great respect for the UK and its society. It’s a great country.
“From the beginning I was of the opinion that if we cannot organize Eurovision, it should take place in one of the countries that share a border with us, such as Slovakia, Poland or any other country that our people can easily reach. Somewhere near.
“The most important thing is that the match takes place. Let the people show their talent,” he added, according to other reports.
After Ukrainian hip-hop band Kalush Orchestra won the 2022 completion in Turin, Italy, national broadcaster UA:PBC said it would not be able to host the event.
Despite each year’s competition winners being expected to host the following year, the state broadcaster said it was unable to host the 67th edition due to security concerns amid Russia’s attack on the country.
The BBC then offered its support to take the reins instead.
Britain’s Alesha Dixon and Hannah Waddingham will now host the match from the Liverpool Arena on Saturday night, along with Ukraine’s Julia Sanina.
Zelensky’s comments came after Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told parliament that the UK would become the first country to supply long-range precision missiles to Ukraine.
Accurate to over 150 miles, the cruise missiles will play a key role in the country’s long-awaited counter-offensive against the Russian occupiers.
At a cost of £2.2 million, Ukraine will now have the machinery to hit Russian troops and logistics hubs deep behind the Russian frontline. But the Ukrainian government has assured Britain that the missiles will only be used within the country’s sovereign territory.
The UK has agreed to supply Ukraine with long-range Storm Shadow missiles, making it the first country to do so
Members of the band ‘Kalush Orchestra’ pose on stage with the winner’s trophy and flags of Ukraine after winning last year’s Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine
The news also comes as it was announced that Mr. Zelenksy would not be allowed to address the world at the Eurovision Song Contest.
The BBC and other broadcasters thought the Ukrainian president’s behavior was too ‘political’.
The organizers rejected a request from the Ukrainian president to make a surprise video to urge the 160 million strong public to continue their support despite Russian aggression, according to The Times.
The European Broadcasting Union – an alliance of more than 100 broadcasters – rejected the president over concerns his actions could politicize the event.
A spokesman for the union said: ‘The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show and is governed by strict rules and principles that have been established since its inception.
“As part of this, one of the cornerstones of the competition is the non-political nature of the event.”
“This principle prohibits the possibility of making political or similar statements as part of the competition.
“Mr Zelensky’s request to address the public at the Eurovision Song Contest, although made with laudable intentions, unfortunately cannot be granted as it would be against the rules of the event.”