The international broadcasters cited the non-political nature of the event
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been prevented from making a video appearance at the Eurovision pop contest, the European Broadcasting Union has announced, Telegraph reports. The EBU, an alliance of 112 member organizations that coordinates the annual event, expressed concerns that his speech might politicize the proceedings.
Zelenskyy, who intended to appeal to the global audience for continued support in Ukraine’s fight against Russian invaders, received word from the EBU that his request was against the established rules. The EBU spokesperson stated, “The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show and governed by strict rules and principles which have been established since its creation. As part of these, one of the cornerstones of the contest is the non-political nature of the event.”
Earlier, Zelenskyy expressed his respect for the UK, this year’s host nation, but mentioned his preference for the event to be held in a country neighboring Ukraine, such as Slovakia or Poland. This, he believes, would have allowed easier access for Ukrainian citizens.
In his conversation with the BBC, Zelenskyy said, “From the very start my opinion has been that if we can’t host Eurovision it should take place in one of the countries that share a border with us, such as Slovakia, Poland, or another country our people can reach easily.” He added, “The main thing is that the contest is taking place. Let the people show their talent.”
Despite Zelenskyy’s absence, the city of Liverpool, where the event is taking place, has been adorned with Ukrainian symbols and flags. The city is also hosting 3,000 people who have fled Ukraine due to the ongoing war, Telegraph reports.
Eurovision organizers acknowledged that they would have preferred Ukraine to host the event as the winners of last year’s contest, but due to unfortunate circumstances, this was not possible. They stated, “We’re delighted that the BBC agreed to host in Liverpool and are organizing an incredible event that will celebrate Ukraine and its rich music, heritage, culture and creativity.”
Ukraine was slated to host this year’s Eurovision after the Kalush Orchestra’s victory in 2022 in Turin. However, due to the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s national broadcaster, UAPBC, announced in October that they were unable to host the 67th edition due to safety concerns. Consequently, the contest was moved to the UK.