When Russia initially invaded Ukraine, Eurovision said the aggressor country would still be allowed to enter a song into the contest. Ukraine would also participate. But now, executive board of Eurovision has announced that Russia would no longer be eligible to participate. Here is the group’s official statement:
The Executive Board of the EBU made the decision following a recommendation earlier today by the Eurovision Song Contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU.The Reference Group recommendation was also supported by the EBU’s Television Committee.
The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.
Before making this decision the EBU took time to consult widely among its membership.
The EBU is an apolitical member organization of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.
We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.
The statement stresses that Eurovision will remain apolitical, which is probably why they hesitated to kick Russia out.
Still, the reason is more about presenting a program without disruption and divisiveness–not to mention controversy– rather than punishing Russia for invading another Eurovision country. The board saw which way the wind was blowing, and likely didn’t relish the bad publicity allowing Russia to participate would inevitably bring.
Additionally, no matter what happens in the coming weeks as far as the war is concerned, Ukraine should still be able to compete in Eurovision as a sovereign country without facing intimidation or fear.
The long-running Eurovision Song Contest features artists performing original songs that represent participating countries from all over Europe and Australia and previously Russia. The show airs in May. This season’s host country will be Italy, home of 2021 winners, the viral hit making rock band, Måneskin.