Why isn't Zelensky speaking at Eurovision?

Why isn't Zelensky speaking at Eurovision?

Volodymyr Zelensky banned from delivering video message at Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision, that famously camp song contest which has a strong pro-LGBTQ+ stance and has this year acknowledged Putin’s war in Ukraine as the reason for it being held in Liverpool on the country’s behalf, has blocked President Volodymyr Zelensky from making a video address - because it would breach the event’s “non-political nature”.

Organisers behind the show, who on Thursday saw no issue with drag queens absolutely slaying on the M&S Bank Arena stage and preaching messages of love and acceptance, rejected the request ahead of the grand final on Saturday.

In a statement, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – whose previous decisions to ban Russia and Belarus from participating definitely weren’t political, obviously – said the request from Mr Zelensky to address the Eurovision audience “while made with laudable intentions, regrettably cannot be granted by the European Broadcasting Union management as it would be against the rules of the event”.

Belarus was disqualified from the contest in 2021 over political messaging in their planned entry (their second attempt before the deadline), while Russia was kicked out of Eurovision a year later for its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

And the rules state “all participating broadcasters” must ensure that “the ESC [Eurovision Song Contest] shall in no case be politicised and/or instrumentalized and/or otherwise brought into disrepute in any way”.

That’s ‘instrumentalise’ in the sense of using Eurovision as a platform to spread a political message, before anyone makes a musical pun (we know you want to)…

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

The EBU’s decision has since been criticised by Boris Johnson, the former prime minister who became a meme over how many times he’d meet with the Ukrainian president whenever he was experiencing a turbulent moment in his premiership.

“It would have been right to hear from President Zelensky at tomorrow night’s Eurovision. There is only one reason the contest is not in Ukraine and that is because of Putin’s illegal war,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman told reporters: “The prime minister believes it would be fitting for President Zelensky to address the event and we’re disappointed by the decision from the European Broadcasting Union.

“The values and freedoms that President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine are fighting for are not political; they’re fundamental, and Eurovision themselves recognised that last year when they rightly suspended Russia’s participation from the competition.”

No 10 added, however, that they are not planning to call on the EBU to change its mind.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)