President Zelensky of Ukraine has not been permitted to make a speech or address viewers at the final of 2023’s Eurovision Song Contest.
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The finale is set to take place tomorrow (May 13), following the closing of the two semi-final rounds which occurred on Tuesday (May 9) and Thursday (May 11).
This year’s instalment will take place in the UK city of Liverpool, which is hosting the ceremony on behalf of last year’s winners, Ukraine, due to the country’s ongoing war with Russia. Despite this, however, it has been revealed that the Ukrainian president will not be granted permission to address the public at tomorrow night’s final.
As per reports, this lack of airtime is because the organising committee of the annual song contest wish to retain the programme’s non-political basis, and “strict rules” prohibit such statements from being made using Eurovision as the platform.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show and governed by strict rules and principles which have been established since its creation,” read a statement from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organisers behind Eurovision (via the Independent).
It continues: “As part of these, one of the cornerstones of the contest is the non-political nature of the event. This principle prohibits the possibility of making political or similar statements as part of the contest.”
Although Zelensky’s request to make a speech was denied “as it would be against the rules of the event”, the grand finale will feature an appearance from last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra, as well as performances from 10 other Ukrainian artists.
Following the ongoing conflict between the two countries, Russia has been banned from the song contest since 2022. As a result, countries including Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro have since withdrawn themselves from the competition.
Currently, Sweden’s Loreen has been named as the most likely to win the 2023 edition with her song ‘Tattoo’. Käärijä has been listed as having the second-best odds, and will be representing the nation with the song ‘Cha Cha Cha’.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Charlotte Church will also be playing in Liverpool’s Eurovision Village tonight (May 12) for the penultimate day of the contest, which has been dubbed ‘EuroEve’.