Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest reversed course on Friday, announcing that Russia would no longer be allowed to perform at this year’s event.
“In light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, this decision reflects concerns that the inclusion of Russia’s entry in this year’s competition will bring the competition into disrepute,” the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement.
The decision to culturally punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine comes a day after the same group said Moscow would be allowed to send an act to Moscow to appear at the next Eurovision in Turin, Italy, in May.
Ukraine’s public broadcasting company has asked Russia to suspend it from the popular contest, which is watched by about 200 million people every year.
But the EBU, which has organized the contest since 1956, insisted Eurovision was a “non-political cultural event”.
In response, several other European countries have indicated they will not participate in this year’s event unless Russia is banned.
Russia has yet to formally announce an act for this year’s competition. Since the attack on Ukraine, thousands of Russians have risked arrest to protest against their government’s deadly offensive.