The whole world expects Ukraine to win Eurovision – but this could strain the chances

If you ask bookmakers from all over the world, there is no doubt who is the favorite to win this year’s Eurovision: Ukraine.

But, but, but. A very special element of the competition may end up straining legs for them.

This is explained by DR radio host Ole Tøpholm, who has previously been a commentator on the singing competition and has followed it closely for many years.

For it is not solely up to the viewers – if the bookmakers are right that their votes will primarily go to Ukraine – to decide who will run with the victory.

Kalush Orchestra.

Kalush Orchestra.
Photo: Kalush Orchestra / Handout via REUTERS

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Viewers sit alone on one half of the votes, while a so-called professional jury sits on the other.

And it is only when the votes are added that a winner can be chosen.

‘The professional juries were just in the current system put in the world to prevent political votes and neighboring votes. This about voting with emotions. And that’s what it’s about right now, “says Ole Tøpholm, referring to the fact that the Ukrainian song – ‘Stefania’ by the group Kalush Orchestra – stormed up the lists of bookmakers, after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, began his invasion in the neighboring country.

Currently, the Ukrainian song is predicted 45 percent chance of winning with the bookmakers.

But had it not been for the war in Ukraine – which has led to massive support, backing and love for the country – it would hardly have gone quite like that, Ole Tøpholm believes.

“If the same song had been performed for one of the Ukrainian neighbors, from Poland or Moldova – then I would not have thought about it further. And then it was not a song we had talked about either, “he says.

And according to Ole Tøpholm, it is ‘a bit annoying’.

The Kalush Orchestra, which represents Ukraine in this year's Eurovision, will be seen performing for Ukrainian refugees in Jerusalem on April 5.

The Kalush Orchestra, which represents Ukraine in this year’s Eurovision, will be seen performing for Ukrainian refugees in Jerusalem on April 5.

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The reason for this is that Ukraine – since joining the competition in 2003 – has done well, really well even, and won twice.

“That’s why I think it’s a little unfortunate that, purely musically, it may not be their strongest song this year,” explains the Grand Prix expert.

Precisely this can influence how the professional jury puts their votes:

“If they vote as the jury should vote, then I will make the claim that then Ukraine will not win,” says Ole Tøpholm, who adds that he likes the national touch that the song has over him:

“In defense of Ukraine, I would also like to say that I like the story of how much the song fills the Ukrainian people right now. I think it’s beautiful and I hope they get the biggest applause at this year’s Eurovision, “he says.

However, he is worried that a Ukrainian victory could ‘ruin some of the show’s magic’, as it is a non-political competition:

“Even though we are all on Ukraine’s side, the political dimension comes into the show that way. Also afterwards, where people might want to say that ‘it’s all political’, and the aftertaste may be that ‘it was just a declaration of sympathy’, “he says and adds:

“And the perspective in that I think will be super annoying for the competition, because it means it can all end up in a discussion that it’s a political party rather than a music party.”

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