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On Saturday night, Italy will host the carnival of camp that is the Eurovision Song Contest – and it’s set to be one of the most politically-charged events of the year.
In its 66-year history, the biggest music competition in the world has dealt with border disputes, issues around national identity and even Israel-Palestine, despite contestants having to promise that their entries “shall in no case be politicised”.
This year’s contest in Turin will undoubtedly focus on the war in Ukraine, with Russia banned from participating.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Ukraine is the bookies’ favourite to take this year’s Eurovision crown. Kalush Orchestra will sing “Stefania” – a song sung in the band’s native Ukrainian about frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother. One poignant verse hits home more than any other: “I‘ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed.”
Expect the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland and Finland, to award douze points to Ukraine.
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Do not think for one moment, however, that the Ukrainians are a shoo-in. The UK’s chances of winning tomorrow are, for once, high. Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” may give Britain its best finish since Jade Ewen placed fifth in 2009.
But let’s not get hung up with the politics of Eurovision. The bigger controversy is the fact Australia is allowed to compete.