Ukrainian Eurovision contestants have spoken of the responsibility they feel to represent their war-torn country at this year’s Song Contest.
Kalush Orchestra, which received special permission to perform in Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, is now preparing to travel to Turin, Italy, where this year’s Eurovision event is taking place.
“Representing Ukraine in this difficult time of war, I want to do my best to be another spokesperson for Ukraine,” leader Oleh Psiuk told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat amid the ongoing conflict. between his country and Russia.
He says he observed a “striking contrast” during his visit to Israel and the Netherlands: “People here are not worried at all. [about the war] and that’s quite unusual. A lot of people can see everything that happened as some kind of war movie, but it’s very difficult when it happens to you and your family.
“When you wake up in the morning, you don’t know if your family and friends are still alive.”
As well as performing for Eurovision fans, Kalush Orchestra used their short promotional tour to meet refugees.
“We believe our mission is to support people while we’re here,” Oleh said.
“If everyone joins together and does what they can, I believe the war will soon be over and will not start in other countries.”
Italy won the honor of hosting Eurovision after entering 2021, rock band Maneskin, triumphed in the competition with their song “Zitti e Buoni”.
This year’s semi-finals will take place on May 10 and 12, with the grand final taking place on May 14.
In February, Russia was banned from competing at Eurovision this year due to its ongoing attack on Ukraine.
“EBU [European Broadcasting Union] announced that no Russian acts will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest,” the statement read.
The group said it had “extensively” consulted its members on the matter and made a decision based on “a recommendation made earlier today by the governing body of the Eurovision Song Contest”.
“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s competition will bring the competition into disrepute,” a representative said.
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