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Eurovision execs won’t move contest out of Ukraine despite planning chaos

Nick Duffy December 9, 2016

The Eurovision Song Contest has been given the green light to go ahead in Kyiv next year, after execs decided against moving the contest out of Ukraine despite “significant challenges”.

The country that wins the camp music contest is traditionally given the honour of hosting the following year, meaning the task falls to Ukrainian broadcaster NTU following the victory of Crimean singer Jamala back in May. 

However, planning for next year’s contest is believed to be months behind schedule, with the announcement of host city Kyiv delayed three times due to behind-the-scenes troubles. Key decisions on ticketing partners, security, travel and tourism partners, site preparation and set design have also reportedly faced delays.

Meanwhile, fears have grown that Kyiv and state broadcaster NTU are struggling to meet infrastructure costs associated with the contest, which sees tens of thousands of dedicated fans descend upon its host city every year. Last month NTU’s Director General resigned, citing serious budget problems in an open letter.

Executives from the European Broadcasting Union met on Thursday to decide whether to move the contest out of Ukraine due to the problems.

Following the meeting, a statement confirmed the contest will go ahead in Kyiv despite the difficulties, after the NTU assured execs that the contest can continue as planned.

A remarkably frank statement from the EBU admitted that there were still “significant challenges” facing the organisers, but that “the authorities in Kyiv have made good progress”.

EBU chief Jon Ola Sand said: “Over the two last weeks a lot has been done from the Ukrainian side both from the authorities and from NTU.

“We are fully satisfied with what we have seen and what they presented to us in the meeting yesterday. I know there has been a lot of debate about this and a lot of speculations around this.

“We have had a firm and good dialog, an open dialog with NTU all the way. What they presented now was expected and we’re very happy to tick that off and make sure we have the progression we need.”

Addressing reports the contest could be moved to Russia in an ultimate humiliation to Ukraine he added: “We always have a Plan B in place, this is normal.”

Victoria Romanova, Executive Producer of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest said: “I’m glad to confirm that NTU has the sufficient budget to hold the contest next year in Ukraine.

“In particular we will receive 15 million Euros from the state of Ukraine and in addition to this we will receive 7 million Euros from the Kyiv city administration as the contribution of the host city.

“We have already received the amount from the Kyiv city administration and we have already started the preparation.

“We are getting ready for the celebration of music, talent and unity which Eurovision stands for, and we will be happy to welcome Eurovision fans from all over the world in Ukraine next May.”

In a furious Facebook post earlier this week, Ukranian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman attacked reports that that the contest could be moved to Russia – a blow that would be seen as a final humiliation for Ukraine.

The PM dismissed claims that country was struggling to prepare for the contest, accusing critics of spreading “propaganda” and trying to “discredit Ukraine”.

Though tickets have not yet been released for the contest, many dedicated fans have already booked flights and accommodation.

The Semi-Finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 will take place on May 9 and May 11, with the Grand Final on Saturday May 13. The contest is currently set to take place in Kyiv’s International Exhibition Centre.

More: contest, Europe, eurovision, eurovision song contest, Gay, Germany, Kyiv, LGBT, Music, Russia, Television, ukraine, Ukraine

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