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Eurovision 2017: Organising team quits en masse

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Getty Images

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The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Kiev, after Ukrainian singer Jamala won last year’s competition

The Eurovision Song Contest has hit a major road bump, after 21 top level staff organising the event resigned.

The Ukrainian Eurovision team say they were stripped of major responsibilities in December, when a new boss was appointed to the organising committee.

According to their resignation letter, they were “completely blocked” from making decisions about the show.

The EBU, which founded Eurovision, told Ukraine’s public broadcaster to “stick to the timeline” despite the upheaval.

It insisted the event would go ahead as planned in Kiev this May.

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Reuters

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The organising team claimed they were shut out of decisions by Eurovision co-ordinator Pavlo Hrytsak

Among the team members who resigned were two executive producers of this year’s show.

All the staff were appointed by the Ukraine Public Broadcaster (UA:PBC), which is organising the contest after Ukrainian singer Jamala won last year’s event with the song 1944.

‘Completely blocked’

In an open letter published by Strana, the team said: “Hereby we, the Eurovision team, for whom this contest has become not only part of our work but also part of our life, officially inform that we are resigning and stopping work on preparations for the organisation of the contest.”

They said preparations “stopped for almost two months” after the appointment of Eurovision co-ordinator Pavlo Hrytsak last year, adding, “the work of our team was completely blocked”.

The EBU said it could not comment on the staffing matters raised in the letter, but thanked the team for their hard work.

In a statement, it added: “We have reiterated to UA:PBC the importance of a speedy and efficient implementation of plans already agreed, despite staff changes and that we stick to the timeline and milestones that have been established and approved by the Reference Group to ensure a successful Contest in May.”

Media captionLucie Jones performs Never Give Up On You, the UK’s entry for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest final is due to take place in Kiev on 13 May.

There has already been controversy over the decision to hold the opening ceremony in the Saint Sophia complex, a well-known religious landmark which dates back to the 17th Century.

The use of the venue was called “blasphemy” by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy.

“From all viewpoints, this is a very bad decision,” Andrei Kurayev, a prominent deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, was quoted as saying by Mosokovski Komsomolets. “Now, on the tombstone of [Mstislav I of Kiev], there will be dances.”

Later, Zurab Alasania, head of Ukraine’s national TV and radio company, resigned amidst reports that the country was having troubles financing the song contest.

Britain will be represented by former X Factor contestant Lucie Jones in this year’s competition. The Welsh singer was chosen by a public vote after performing her ballad, Never Give Up On You, on BBC Two’s Eurovision: You Decide.

The song was co-written by Danish star Emmelie de Forest, who won the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 with the song Only Teardrops.

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