Eurovision Chief Stands Behind Ongoing Russia Ban From International Song Contest

Eurovision’s executive supervisor Martin Österdahl, stated on a recent radio interview that while Russia’s ban from the international song contest has been difficult, it’s necessary as the event should “stand for the basic and ultimate values of democracy.” 

Embed from Getty Images

Russia was banned from competing in the Eurovision international song contest in 2022 after the country invaded Ukraine. Following the news, Russia’s national broadcasters suspended their memberships of the European Broadcasting Union, the organization responsible for putting together the contest, further preventing them from participating in future competitions, according to the Guardian

Martin Österdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, spoke with Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus on BBC’s Radio 4 Today program. 

When asked whether or not the decision to ban Russia was hard to make, Österdahl said “It was, and it still is. How Europe feels very much affects the contest.”

“It is also that when you look back in time, you see that the Eurovision song contest is like a logbook of what has happened in Europe, what the trends have been in Europe.

“But, also, what is the kind of mood and sentiment of Europe, and what is the social context of Europe at the time. When we say we are not political, what we always should stand up for are the basic and ultimate values of democracy. Everyone is right to be who they are,” Österdahl added.

Ukraine went on to win the 2022 Eurovision contest with the song Stefania, performed by Kalush Orchestra. The UK came in second, and will host the 2023 contest because of the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

Within its application to host, Liverpool had to breakdown how it would emphasize Ukrainian culture, music, and community values if it were to host on behalf of Ukraine.

Embed from Getty Images

“This will be a Eurovision song contest that really shows the values that we talk about – solidarity, reaching out, uniting through music.”

Embed from Getty Images

Ulvaeus went on to discuss that he was interested in attending the competition in Liverpool to see the Cavern Club venue, as this is one of the most famous locations that the Beatles, his idols, played. 

“My idols [over] all the idols, the Beatles, come from there, which is why I am thinking maybe I should go to see the finals. And I have never been to Liverpool. To see the Cavern where the Beatles appeared. They were the reason why Benny Andersson and I started writing music.

Before the Beatles, songwriters were kind of anonymous. But suddenly there were these guys who were not only the artist, but they wrote their own songs,” Ulvaeus stated.

“I will try my very best. You are always welcome,” Österdahl responded.