Ukranian president Zelenskyy banned from delivering Eurovision video message

Watch Austria’s performance in Eurovision 2023 semi-final

Despite Ukraine winning last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the nation’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been blocked from addressing the globe at the event.

It has been reported the leader’s request to make a video appearance during Saturday’s grand final to an audience of 160 million was turned down by Eurovision Song Contest organisers.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it was concerned an appearance by the president risks politicising the event.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show and governed by strict rules and principles which have been established since its creation,” a spokesperson said.

“As part of these, one of the cornerstones of the contest is the non-political nature of the event.”

They added: “The request by Mr Zelensky to address the audience at the Eurovision Song Contest, whilst made with laudable intentions, regrettably cannot be granted as it would be against the rules of the event.”

No fewer than 11 Ukrainian artists, including last year’s Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra, will be performing.

Kalush Orchestra were crowned the winners of last year’s event with their mesmerising tune Stefania.

Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine against Russia, the UK offered to host this year’s contest in Liverpool.

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It is not the first time the Ukrainian President has been barred from speaking at a public event.

His request to speak at the Oscars in March was said to have been declined for the second consecutive year.

A BBC insider said: “Clearly there is a huge amount of sympathy for Zelensky but I can understand the principle behind it.

“When it was held in Russia would we have wanted Putin given the opportunity to make a nice address? How would they juggle that?”

The semi-finals were hosted by Julia Sanina, Hannah Waddingham and Alesha Dixon live from Liverpool Arena.

The countries which made it through to the final from Tuesday night are Sweden, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Czechia, Israel, Croatia, Moldova and Switzerland.

The nations which secured a place in the final on Thursday are Austria, Poland, Albania, Australia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Belgium and Armenia.

Sweden’s act Loreen is the favourite to win this year’s competition with odds of 8/13, according to Ladbrokes.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 final airs on BBC One on Saturday at 9pm.

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