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Changing course, Eurovision organizers say no Russian act will compete this year

The Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in 2017. Russia has been excluded from the 2022 edition following its invasion of Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky
/
AFP via Getty Images
The Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in 2017. Russia has been excluded from the 2022 edition following its invasion of Ukraine.

It appears Russia has lost its spot on at least one world stage.

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest announced on Friday that no Russian act will participate in this year's event in light of the country's attack on Ukraine.

The European Broadcast Union — the international public media association that organizes the wildly popular songwriting competition — said in a statement that the decision was made "based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU."

It's a swift departure from organizers' public stance on Thursday, when they characterized Eurovision as a "non-political cultural event" and said Russian acts would be allowed to compete. The EBU's executive board has since decided otherwise.

"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," organizers said on Friday.

Russia had not yet announced its contestant for the competition, whose website says countries have until mid-March to chose their entries. This year's event is set to take place May 10-14 in Turin, Italy.

Organizers noted that there was broad consensus among competition stakeholders.

They said the EBU executive board made its decision after "consulting widely among its membership" and following a recommendation from the contest's governing body, which is known as the Reference Group. The Reference Group's recommendation was also supported by the EBU's Television Committee, they added.

There was also public pressure, as NPR has reported.

The Ukrainian public broadcast network UA:PBC sent an open letter to the EBU on Thursday asking that Russian media be removed from the EBU and requesting that Eurovision's 2022 Russian competitor be removed from the song contest.

Ukraine will be represented in the competition by rap group Kalush Orchestra, which finished second in the national final but won the public vote. Singer Alina Pash was originally set to be the country's contestant, but UA:PBC suspended its agreement with her as authorities investigate complaints that she toured Crimea in 2015, following its occupation by Russian forces.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.