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Zelensky remains determined to host next Eurovision, while rumours speculate Belfast could be in the running

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Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

REUTERS

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

As the UK appeared close to winning the Eurovision Song Contest, before the expected popular poll avalanche propelled Ukraine to victory, there was much chatter about Belfast being the perfect host city next year.

But even now the UK will probably host the 2023 event, if Ukraine is unable in the terrible scenario the conflict is continuing in the country.

Defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was adamant Ukraine will host the Eurovision next year, but competition officials noted the "unique challenges" as they began planning for the event.

But if it so happens that the UK steps in, there will be a chorus calling for the competition to be held in Belfast, with some on social media noting it will reveal the rest of the UK’s solidarity with the region, while others cheekily noted its unique position straddling GB and the EU.

Belfast City Councillor Seamas De Faoite appeared to be close to the centre of light hearted banter on Twitter after he joked: "If the Brits win they should bring it to Belfast. Emergency motion in Council."

This was while voting was continuing and the UK's Sam Ryder was in a strong lead during the jury vote count before Kalush Orchestra overtook him with a huge public vote.

"It was playful rather than anything else. Eurovision is always a bit of craic, always a bit of fun," he said last night.

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Belfast lawyer and politician Jay Michael Burbank, a member of the Alliance Party's executive and chair in South Antrim, was also involved in the debate.

"Why not, it is as good as any other city, like Manchester or Glasgow," Jay Michael told the Belfast Telegraph. "In London, Northern Ireland is obviously a topic of conversation right now because of the protocol."

And he added people here — and in the other UK countries — have a better attitude towards the competition than in England, where, he argued, they are more condescending.

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Call: Belfast councillor Seamas de Faoite

Call: Belfast councillor Seamas de Faoite

Call: Belfast councillor Seamas de Faoite

"The sniping is appealing to a very English mindset," Jay Michael said. However, the BBC, the decider and organiser for the UK, has named Salford in Manchester as the permanent Eurovision headquarters.

Comments on social media included one noting the paperwork will be easier if it is held here and another arguing the idea should be considered as a way to maintain the Union. Another urged people to check the provisions of the p rotocol to find out whether there are any stating Northern Ireland has to host the competition if it comes to the UK.

But, much more seriously, President Zelensky was adamant on Sunday it will be in Ukraine and even vowed to one day hold the event in the embattled city of Mariupol, almost completely in Russian hands apart from hold-outs in the city's vast steel works.

"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe," Mr Zelensky said on Facebook. "Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision."

Mr Zelensky said "one day" the contest will be held "in a Ukrainian Mariupol".

Martin Osterdahl, Eurovision's executive supervisor, said: "The Eurovision Song Contest is the only cultural event that truly unites Europe. This year it's been more important than ever to bring millions together through our common values and love of music.

"Now we will begin planning for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC. Obviously, there are unique challenges involved in hosting next year's competition."




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