Ukrainian president hopes to host Eurovision in Mariupol 'one day'

Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanks winning Ukrainian band, European voters in Eurovision victory.

Ukrainian president hopes to host Eurovision in Mariupol 'one day'

Ukraine, the winner of this year's Eurovision song contest, hopes to host the event in the city of Mariupol, one day, the country's president said Sunday.

Ukraine triumphed at the 66th edition of the Eurovision song contest, held in Italy, winning the competition for the third time in its history, as the UK and Spain finished second and third, respectively.

Boosted by a wave of support from the European public, who voted via phone, the song "Stefania" performed by the Kalush Orchestra, won the contest amid stiff competition from the UK, Spain, and Sweden.

"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision! For the third time in its history. And I believe -- not the last," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

"We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt," he said, thanking the Ukrainian band and European voters.

"I am sure that our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off."

After the winning band's performance, its lead singer, Oleh Psiuk, shouted from the stage: "Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now."

In a video released before the much-awaited event, Zelensky said he believed the Kalush Orchestra could win, calling for Europe to support the Ukrainian song at the Eurovision contest.

Ukraine had already won Eurovision in 2004 with "Wild Dances" by Ruslana, and in 2016 with "1944" by Jamala, becoming the first Eastern European nation to win the contest twice.

The country was one of the favorites since the start of the 2022 edition after Russian troops invaded the country on Feb. 24.

The day after the invasion, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which owns the rights to Eurovision, announced that Russia would be banned from this year's edition.

The winning song, which mixes rap with elements of Ukrainian folk music, was originally written to honor the mother of the band's frontman and has been re-dedicated to all mothers in Ukraine, with parts of the lyrics recalling the conflict that has left the country devastated.

Hüseyin Demir