The Eurovision Music Contest grand ultimate, held in Liverpool, England, on Saturday, was meant to be Ukraine’s celebration.

After Ukraine received final yr’s version of the beloved, campy singing competitors, the nation received the precise to host this yr’s spectacle. However with Russia’s invasion exhibiting no signal of ending, the occasion was relocated to Liverpool.

Within the midst of a warfare, and with tens of millions watching dwell, Ukraine’s entrant, Tvorchi, was among the many favorites to win this yr’s version of the glamorous and, typically, oddball occasion — an indication of the European public’s ongoing solidarity with Ukraine in opposition to Russia’s invasion.

As an alternative, Sweden crashed the celebration. Round midnight within the M&S Financial institution Enviornment, Eurovision’s hosts introduced that the pop singer Loreen had received with “Tattoo,” a dance observe that grows in depth with every verse.

Loreen was the bookmakers’ favourite for the competitors, because of each her catchy observe and Eurovision pedigree, having received as soon as earlier than, in 2012. Her victory signifies that Sweden, a Eurovision-obsessed nation, will host subsequent yr’s contest.

Ukraine’s entry, the pop duo Tvorchi, completed in sixth place.

Eurovision, which began in 1956 and is now onto its 67th version, is the world’s most-watched cultural occasion. Annually, entrants representing international locations throughout Europe and past face off, performing unique songs within the hope of securing votes from watching viewers and juries.

Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, which organized this yr’s contest, promised it might host a celebration for Ukraine, and in Liverpool on Saturday, the war-torn nation’s presence was inescapable. Eurovision followers walked the town carrying Ukrainian flags, and dozens of Ukrainian artwork installations might be seen in outstanding areas across the metropolis.

In Kyiv on Saturday, the occasion provided a diversion from the battlefield. On the Squat 17b bar within the metropolis, Eurovision followers gathered to observe the present, dedicating their first spherical of applause to the Ukrainian Military.

Kyiv’s every day curfew begins at midnight, and the bar shut at 8:30 p.m. so that folks might get residence; followers couldn’t watch the entire occasion there. Nonetheless, at one desk, a bunch of mates sang alongside whereas they might.

“It’s a chunk of happiness,” stated Olha Tarasenko, 24. Tarasenko stated she remembered Ukraine’s victory eventually yr’s occasion. When Kalush Orchestra, a rap-folk group, triumphed, “I used to be crying, and felt like every thing is feasible,” she stated.

European solidarity with Ukraine was clear all through Saturday’s spectacle in Liverpool. It opened with a video of Kalush Orchestra acting on a subway practice in Kyiv, earlier than the band appeared onstage to virtually deafening cheers.

Later within the broadcast, Julia Sanina, one of many night’s TV hosts, went into the viewers and spoke with displaced Ukrainians residing in Britain who had been given heavily-discounted tickets to the ultimate. And, in a particular visitor efficiency, Duncan Laurence, a Dutch pop star, gave a rousing rendition of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “You’ll By no means Stroll Alone,” accompanied by a choir in Kyiv by way of video. “Stroll on, stroll on, with hope in your coronary heart,” the choir sang, “And also you’ll by no means stroll alone.”

The present’s hosts and opponents had been cautious to not truly point out or criticize Russia, which final yr was banned from collaborating within the contest due to its invasion of Ukraine. Eurovision is supposed to be a nonpolitical occasion, and overt political statements are banned.

On Friday, that rule stirred controversy in Britain after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine requested to talk in the course of the ultimate, however was rebuffed. The European Broadcasting Union, which oversees Eurovision, stated in a information launch that “regrettably” an tackle by President Zelensky would have breached its guidelines.

Shortly after the union’s choice, a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain instructed reporters that Eurovision’s apolitical nature wasn’t a ok excuse. “The values and freedoms that President Zelensky and the individuals of Ukraine are preventing for will not be political, they’re basic,” the spokesman stated, in line with a report on the BBC.

Nonetheless, the nonpolitical rule was stretched to breaking level on Saturday evening, with a number of members performing songs that hinted at Russia’s invasion. Throughout Tvorchi’s efficiency of “Coronary heart of Metal,” the band sang lyrics together with: “Regardless of the ache, I proceed my struggle.”

On Saturday evening, even with Tvorchi’s sixth place end, Ukrainian tradition was on show proper till the top of the spectacle.

After Loreen accepted the Eurovision trophy, Julia Sanina, the Ukrainian TV host, appeared onstage to thank Liverpool for being “a tremendous host on behalf of Ukraine.” She then quoted the slogan of this yr’s contest: “We are going to all the time be united by music.”