Zelensky barred from addressing at Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest will have Ukrainian flags, Ukrainian musicians and Ukrainian fans but not the country's wartime leader.

Organizers rejected a request from President Volodymyr Zelensky to make a video address to the final of the pan-continental music competition on May 12. He was expected to urge the world continue its support for Ukraine's fight to repel Russian invasion.

The European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, said that letting Zelensky participate would breach "the nonpolitical nature of the event."

Zelensky's request "to address the audience at the Eurovision Song Contest, whilst made with laudable intentions, regrettably cannot be granted by the European Broadcasting Union management as it would be against the rules of the event," the
organization said.

Founded in 1956 to help heal a continent shattered by war, Eurovision strives to keep pop and politics separate. Overtly political lyrics, signs and symbols are banned.

But politics can't be shut out entirely. Russia was banned from the contest after it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Belarus had been kicked out the previous year over its government's clampdown on dissent.

Acts from 26 countries will compete in live final at the Liverpool Arena, which will be co-hosted by Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina.

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