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Liverpool won the chance to host Eurovision, but let the contest be a victory for Ukraine | Steve Rotheram

When the time came for the judges to decide, only one city could be on the front line to host Eurovision. It had to be Liverpool.

Of course, next year’s contest should legitimately be held in Ukraine, but following Vladimir Putin’s illegal and deadly incursion, our region jumped at the chance to throw our hats in the ring to help Eurovision 2023 to rise like a phoenix.

I may be a little biased but, let’s be honest, there’s no place that can do a show like Eurovision justice quite like the Liverpool city area.

While we came up against stiff competition from Glasgow, who deserve more than the zero points they received on this occasion, nowhere is more experienced or qualified, and nowhere throws a party like us.

A Unesco City of Music, home of the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Real Thing, Cilla Black, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Elvis Costello, to bands like the Wombats, Circa Waves and the Mysterines today today – we are home to countless artists whose music has inspired the world for generations.

It’s safe to say that music wouldn’t be music without Liverpool, and Liverpool wouldn’t be Liverpool without music. It is woven into the very fabric of our region’s identity. But it would be a mistake to assume that the culture of our region is confined to the Merseybeat of old, or to the walls of our great buildings, museums and galleries. It’s our people, our stories and our history that make our region an international destination – nowhere is the culture bigger or better than us.

Most importantly, however, we are committed to properly celebrating and commemorating the best of Ukraine and its culture within the contest. We want to put on a show they would be proud of, and we’ve worked closely with Liverpool’s sister city, Odessa, to make sure this event is their event as much as ours.

The most famous of Eurovision winners, Abba, went on to compose The Winner Takes it All. For us, however, this is not a victory for Liverpool alone, but a victory which we hope will bring pride to the country and the wider international community.

It’s been a long time since the UK was set to host Eurovision, but it couldn’t have come at a more important time for our region. For many in our hospitality industry, Eurovision will be a lifeboat in rough seas caused by Brexit and the pandemic.

Eurovision offers us the opportunity to electrify our recovery and turn it into new growth, opening up what I consider to be the best region in the world to a whole new audience, many of whom will return again and again.

Now the hard work begins. Putting on a show that will bring joy to millions of people in one of the most turbulent and trying years for our continent is no small feat. I’m sure we’ll be putting on a euphoria-inducing spectacle by the end of time. If there’s one that can do it, it’s Liverpool – with a little help from our Ukrainian friends.

Steve Rotheram is the Mayor of the City of Liverpool Region

theguardian Gt

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