“Cheesy as it may be, it is an international phenomenon. Eurovision, originally conceived to unify Cold War Europe, has been going on since 1956—pre-dating the European Union by decades, and even the European Economic Community by a year.”
While this year’s theme for the event in Kiev is “Celebrate Diversity,” 2017 may go down in Eurovision history as having even more geopolitical drama than usual.
(The uproar this year comes after organizers have tried, and previously failed at keeping politics from playing out on the main stage).
The Ukrainian entry is “1944,” a song that decries the deportation of 240,000 Tatars, a Muslim minority, from Ukraine’s Crimea during World War II by Stalin—the same region Russia annexed in 2014. Jamala, whose great-grandmother was among those deported during the war, sends a thinly-veiled message to Russia, which is also sponsoring a rebellion in the eastern part of Ukraine, asking the country not to swallow the Tatar soul.
Jamala’s triumph meant that the 2017 contest would be held in the Ukraine, in keeping with the event’s tradition. But those hoping for a rematch between Russia and Ukraine in this year’s finals will be disappointed.
In March, Ukraine banned Russian competitor Julia Samoilova from coming into the country. The ban stemmed from what Ukraine called “an illegal visit to sing in Crimea” in 2015, in which Samoilova reportedly went to the disputed territory through Russia rather than the Ukrainian mainland, the BBC reports.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin called the decision a “cynical, inhumane act.”
The European Broadcasting Union offered to allow Samoylova to participate via a satellite connection—an idea proposed to deescalate the fallout, but that both countries quickly rejected.
How to watch Eurovision 2017 from the US
The 2016 Eurovision song contest, which aired in three live showings from Stockholm, Sweden, was seen by more than 200 million viewers, according to the program’s website.
This year’s performances will run on May 9, 11 and 13 at 21:00 Central European Summer Time (CEST).
The EBU has confirmed that it will partner with Logo for the second consecutive year as the exclusive U.S. broadcast home of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Logo will broadcast the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday 13th May (3PM ET/12PM PT). Stars of Rupaul’s Drag RaceMichelle Visage and Ross Mathews will appear as Logo’s commentators for the 2017 contest. Throughout the live broadcast, the Logo hosts will offer background on the event and contextualize the competition for American audiences while introducing them to contestants from each of the 42 competing countries.
The 2017 Grand Final will be streamed live exclusively for viewers in the United States on Logo’s official website, YouTube channel and Logo’s app. Last year the Eurovision Song Contest reached an audience of more than 200 million people around the world.
“Logo is proud to return as the exclusive U.S. broadcast home for the global phenomenon that is the Eurovision Song Contest,” said Pamela Post, Senior Vice President of Programming for Logo. “This cultural gem has taken worldwide audiences by storm and we’re thankful to once again partner with EBU so our viewers can watch the Grand Final live.