Birmingham “could throw a great party” for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest after being shortlisted for UK cities bidding to host the contest, sheriffs said.
Lush from hosting the successful Commonwealth Games, Birmingham is named alongside Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle, as possible venues for the glittering 2023 vocal showcase .
The contest was set to be held in Ukraine after the Kalush Orchestra won this year’s competition, but the Russian invasion means organizers have instead opted for the UK – whose entry Sam Ryder came in second – as the host.
Reacting on Friday, Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: “We are delighted to be one of seven shortlisted cities.
“This is a sanctuary city, a city that has welcomed people from all over the world and made their home here.
“We would very much like to have the honor of hosting, on behalf of Ukraine, the Eurovision song contest next year.”
The council leader said the success of hosting the Commonwealth Games was “the best ever”, the closing ceremony featured a towering performance by legendary West Midlands rocker Ozzy Osbourne, shows that the city is “ready for the challenge”.
Birmingham was also the last UK city to host Eurovision in 1998.
Mr Ward added: “Now that we are short-listed, we will look to start from this and progress to the next round.
“But we just hosted the much-acclaimed tournament that could be the best Commonwealth Games ever.
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“So, as a city, we’ve proven that we can organize these huge multi-site events in a short amount of time in a way that some other venues can.
“We are definitely up for the challenge and we want to make this a celebration of Ukraine.”
We are a city of immigrants, a city that has welcomed the world, and we do it in style.City Council Leader Ian Ward
Mr Ward. who said his Eurovision fandom “goes back to the early 70s and Abba” added: “We’re a city that can throw a great party.
“We have about 450 people coming here from Ukraine since the war with Russia started, we have another 200 on the way.
“We have the largest Ukrainian population outside of London, so we are the real ideal location to give Ukraine a true celebration of Ukrainian culture and people.”
He said the contest venue proposed by Resorts World Arena, on the NEC complex near Birmingham Airport, was also “second to none”.
“I feel overjoyed,” he said.
It’s in the center of the country, we have an airport next to it… the hotel, it’s the heart of the UK’s transport network.Guy Dunstan, NEC Group
“We are a city of immigrants, a city that has welcomed the world, and we do it in style.”
Guy Dunstan, NEC Group’s managing director of arenas, said the 15,000-seat arena, which hosted the Concert for Ukraine, earlier this year and has served as a presenter for artists from Metallica to Harry Styles, had “all the evidence”.
“It’s in the center of the country, we have an airport next to it, we have the NEC hall, the hotel, it’s the heart of the UK transport network,” he said.
“It has all the credentials to host an event the size of the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Also cheering the news, after it was announced live on BBC Radio 2, was the Brummies adopting Natalia Kogut and her 12-year-old daughter Melisa.
Ms Kogut and her family were forced to leave her hometown of Kyiv, where she is a lecturer at one of the country’s top universities, the National University of Technology, to the UK in March on a triple visa five.
Her daughter, Melisa, sang the Ukrainian national anthem for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street in May.
Ms. Kogut, her son Akim, 18, and mother Galina Timchuk, originally lived with the same host family, but now have their own accommodation.
Reacting to the news, Ms. Kogut said: “We would be very happy if Eurovision could take place in Birmingham – there is a huge Ukrainian community here.”
While it was a bittersweet moment as Russia’s war in Ukraine meant the contest couldn’t take place in her home country, she added: “The UK as a whole is more supportive of Ukraine than anyone else. any other country.
“I believe it’s going to be in the UK – and especially in Birmingham,” she added
Ms. Kogut hopes that the end of hostilities will come sooner rather than later, meaning the whole family can be reunited.
But until that day comes, Ms Kogut says she is grateful to her foster home, adding: “A big thank you to everyone here in Birmingham.”
“We are very happy – and proud (of Birmingham).”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/birmingham-can-put-on-a-great-party-as-it-makes-eurovision-shortlist-41907406.html Birmingham ‘could throw a great party’ as it shortlisted Eurovision