It wouldn’t be a Eurovision song contest without the headlines and this year is no exception.
All eyes are on the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, who won the annual song contest with a landslide victory.
While British TikTok star Sam Ryder stunned the national juries, the Ukrainians took the crowd by storm, finishing 193 points ahead of their competition after the public vote was cast.
Here’s what you need to know.
How do other participants react to Ukraine’s victory?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with runner-up Ryder via social media congratulating Kalush Orchestra for “taking it home to glorious Ukraine”.
However, some expressed sympathy for the Briton, who had led the jury vote by 283 points.
Vladana Vučinić — who represented Montenegro — said Europe “sent a clear message with this match”.
“And I love Stefania, but have to admit I was really sorry for @samhairwolfryder, who would win in a different situation,” she wrote.
Ukraine’s victory not only means that Kalush Orchestra are “incredible performers”, wrote the Icelandic entry, Systur, but “receiving the majority of televotes also tells us that the people of Europe are behind Ukraine, that we all want peace “.
“We must stand together, rise up and demand peace for Ukraine, for all of us, our children and the next generation.”
Do band members fight in the war?
The six-piece, all-male band was given special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine.
One of the original members stayed behind to fightand the others will return home in the next few days.
Before traveling to Italy, singer Oleh Psiuk led a volunteer organization he founded early in the war that uses social media to find transportation and shelter for those in need.
“Like any Ukrainian, I am ready to fight and carry on to the end.”
How is the mood in Kalush?
If the name doesn’t give it away, Kalush is where the band comes from – and it would be fair to say that the residents are quite delighted with the result.
Petro Yugan, a 74-year-old resident, told reporters he was in “seventh heaven”, jumping and delighted.
“With all my soul, all my love, I love my Kalush. My wife and I watched until 1am and we were happy to win. I was jumping. I was in heaven”, he said.
It is a feeling that is felt in other parts of the war-torn country.
“The whole country is revolting, everyone in the world is supporting us. This is extremely beautiful,” said Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old teacher.
Will Ukraine host the competition next year?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hopes so.
After the country’s victory, he said “we will do our best” to host next year’s match in the ruined port city of Mariupol, which is almost entirely occupied by Russian troops.
“Next year Ukraine will host the Eurovision Song Contest,” said Zelenskyy.
“We will do everything we can to make sure that one day Eurovision participants and guests are received in Mariupol, Ukraine. Free, peaceful, restored.”
Were there any irregularities in voting?
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is organizing the event, believes so. On May 15, it released a statement saying that an analysis of the jury vote after the “second dress rehearsal of the second semi-final” had detected certain “irregular voting patterns” in the results of six countries.
It did not name the nations, but said it eventually replaced those votes with a “substitute aggregate result for each country”.
“The EBU takes all suspected attempts to manipulate voting in the Eurovision Song Contest very seriously and reserves the right to remove such votes in accordance with the Official Voting Instructions, regardless of whether such votes are likely to reflect the results and/or outcome of the vote”, is stated in a statement.
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