Russia Has Now Been Booted From Eurovision For Invading Ukraine

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest reversed course on Friday, announcing that Russia would no longer be permitted to perform in this year’s event.

“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,” the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement.

The decision to punish Russia culturally for invading Ukraine comes a day after the same group had said Moscow would be allowed to send an act to appear at the next Eurovision, scheduled to be held in Turin, Italy, in May.

Ukraine’s public broadcasting company had asked for Russia to be suspended from the popular contest, which is watched by almost 200 million people each year.

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But the EBU, which has organized the contest since 1956, had insisted Eurovision was “a non-political cultural event.”

In response, a number of other European countries had indicated they would not participate in this year’s event unless Russia was banned.

Russia was yet to formally announce an act for this year’s competition. Since the attack on Ukraine, thousands of Russians have braved the risk of being arrested to protest against their government’s deadly invasion.

In addition to harsh economic sanctions designed to push Russia to call off its invasion, the West has also taken other steps, like the Eurovision ban, to isolate the country culturally.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday urged sporting federations around the world to pull events from Russia and Belarus, a Moscow ally that allowed Russian forces to use its territory to attack Ukraine. The IOC urged that no Russian or Belarusian flags be displayed or anthems played at any international event.

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The decision came after the IOC condemned Russia for breaking the so-called Olympic Truce, which was to last until seven days after the end of the Winter Paralympic Games.

The Russian Grand Prix has also been canceled by Formula One, while the Champions League final is set to be moved from St. Petersburg.

In New York City, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, a friend and ally to President Vladimir Putin, was barred from leading performances of the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.

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