Thousands of tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest are to be allocated to Ukrainians who have been forced from their homes and are living in the UK.
The international music show will take place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
As part of the UK’s commitment to honour Ukraine at the song contest, around 3,000 tickets will be made available to displaced Ukrainians so they can attend the live shows.
The UK government has also announced £10m in funding to “help ensure the event truly showcases Ukrainian culture” on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.
The money will support Liverpool City Council and the BBC’s partnerships with Ukrainian artists and performers to create a show “celebrating music and how it unites people from around the world”.
It will also support security, visa arrangements and other operational aspects of the contest, as well as Liverpool City Council’s schools, community and volunteering programmes.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means the contest cannot be held where it should be. But we are honoured to be supporting the BBC and Liverpool in hosting it on their behalf, and are determined to make sure the Ukrainian people are at the heart of this event.
“Today’s announcement means that thousands of tickets will be offered to those displaced by war, so that they can take part in a show honouring their homeland, their culture and their music.
“As always, we stand together with the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom.”
Ukrainian ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko added: “The allocation of almost 3,000 tickets to displaced Ukrainians for the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool will allow our compatriots here to enjoy the event and celebrate our country’s rich culture and music.
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“The UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion has been exemplary and this gesture is another example of that commitment.
“The £10m in funding to showcase Ukrainian culture is also greatly appreciated and will help to put on a collaborative show bringing people from around the world closer to each other.
“We are grateful to the UK Government, Liverpool City Council, and the BBC for their efforts to honour Ukraine’s culture and people through this event.”
The Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said that Ukraine will be “at the heart” of all of their Eurovision plans.
She added: “Working with our Ukrainian community we are shaping a thought-provoking and powerful programme that is all-encompassing and representative of modern Ukraine – inspiring, poignant, funny, beautiful and moving.
“We’re delighted with the news that displaced Ukrainians are being given the opportunity to come to the city in May – this is their Eurovision after all.
“Our team has been working tirelessly behind the scenes and we can’t wait to give them a warm Liverpool welcome and, fingers crossed, do them, the rest of the Ukraine and the UK proud.”
Among the tributes, Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, who were triumphant at last year’s competition in Turin, Italy, will perform during the upcoming show.
Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko, who has commentated on Eurovision in Ukraine since 2007, will also appear during the live shows to give insight from Ukraine’s commentary box in the Liverpool Arena.
This announcement comes on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion which forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes, with many finding refuge in the UK.
Those who are based in the UK through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme will be able to apply for tickets for the song contest.
Tickets for displaced Ukrainians have been subsided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with a £20 charge to be applied to each sale.
Spaces will be offered for all nine live shows, including the semi-finals, the preview shows and the live final on May 13.