All eyes on Eurovision! Ukraine is heavily tipped to win the grand final


All eyes on Eurovision! Ukraine is heavily tipped to win the grand final of the song contest against the backdrop of war – though Putin-backing countries could snub the favourites and Britain’s Sam Ryder has an outside shot

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Ukraine are the hot favourites to win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest amid Russia‘s invasion of the country. 

The contest is underway this evening with 25 bands performing in front of a live audience in the northern Italian city of Turin, while millions more watch on television around the world.

The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra is heavily tipped to win by bookmakers, which are giving the group that mixes traditional Ukrainian rhythms, costumes and dance moves with contemporary hip hop a 60% chance of winning.

Their song, ‘Stefania,’ was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 into an anthem to the war-ravaged nation.

The lyrics ‘I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,’ written by frontman Oleh Psiuk, have taken on special meaning since the invasion. 

The six-member, all-male band received special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest. One of the original members stayed to fight, and the others plan to return as soon as the contest is over.

Members of the band "Kalush Orchestra", Oleh Psiuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Ihor Didenchuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, Oleksandr Slobodianyk and Vlad Kurochka, who perform on behalf of Ukraine

Members of the band ‘Kalush Orchestra’, Oleh Psiuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Ihor Didenchuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, Oleksandr Slobodianyk and Vlad Kurochka, who perform on behalf of Ukraine

Britain's Sam Ryder (pictured) and Sweden's Cornelia Jakobs are each given a 10% shot while the Italian duo of Mahmood & Blanco have a 6% chance of winning

Britain’s Sam Ryder (pictured) and Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs are each given a 10% shot while the Italian duo of Mahmood & Blanco have a 6% chance of winning

Singer Chanel performs on behalf of Spain during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin this evening

Singer Chanel performs on behalf of Spain during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin this evening

The contest is underway this evening with 25 bands performing in front of a live audience in the northern Italian city of Turin

The contest is underway this evening with 25 bands performing in front of a live audience in the northern Italian city of Turin

WRS from Romania performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening

WRS from Romania performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening

The Rasmus from Finland singing Jezebel perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin

The Rasmus from Finland singing Jezebel perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin

Members of the band "Subwoolfer" perform on behalf of Norway during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022

Members of the band ‘Subwoolfer’ perform on behalf of Norway during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022

The winner is chosen in equal parts by panels of music experts in each competing nation and votes by the viewing public, leaving room for an upset. 

Britain’s Sam Ryder and Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs are each given a 10% shot while the Italian duo of Mahmood & Blanco have a 6% chance of winning. All eyes are also on the nations who might not vote for Ukraine, after Russia and Belarus were excluded amid the invasion. 

The winner takes home a glass microphone trophy and a potential career boost.

The event is hosted by Italy after the Italian rock band Maneskin won last year in Rotterdam. 

The victory shot the Rome-based band to international fame, opening for the Rolling Stones and appearing on Saturday Night Live and numerous magazine covers in their typically genderless costume code.

Twenty bands have been chosen in two semifinals this week, and will compete along with the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have permanent berths due to their financial support of the contest.

Russia was excluded this year after its invasion of Ukraine, a move organizers said was meant to keep politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship among nations.

Graham Norton returned for his 13th contest to cast a watchful eye over proceedings while delivering his customary barbs.

Chanel from Spain singing SloMo performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena

Chanel from Spain singing SloMo performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena

Alvan and Ahez of France perform live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening

Alvan and Ahez of France perform live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening

Alvan & Ahez from France singing Fulenn perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena

Alvan & Ahez from France singing Fulenn perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena

Eurovision entrant Sam Ryder will take to the stage, 22nd in the running order, in a bid to improve the UK’s standing during the grand final tonight.

The 32-year-old TikTok star will perform his uplifting pop song Space Man, which he co-wrote with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has previously worked with Ed Sheeran and Max Wolfgang.

This year’s final features the 20 successful nations from the week’s two semi-finals, as well as the so-called big five of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

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