Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday (May 17) confirmed Ukraine as the winner of Saturday’s competition after being urged to revise the results by more than 325,000 fans.
In a move prompted by an online petition, the European Broadcasting Union, which governs the contest, reviewed voting results and insisted that Ukraine’s entry “1944,” sung by Jamala, was the winner. EBU said that while Russia had won the audience vote, and Australia had won the jury vote, Jamala had won broad support from both judges and viewers to take the overall win.
The petition, launched Sunday by Arthur Hovhannisyan from Yerevan, Armenia, protested the Ukrainian win, insisting that the number of signatures on his petition showed “how many people are sure that this year’s ‘winner’ is not the one who should really win the contest” and that there was a “need to revise the results.”
By Tuesday evening in Europe, the petition had garnered 325,000 signatures with dozens more added by the minute.
In a statement that recognized “the passions and emotions that are engendered through the Eurovision Song Contest,” the EBU said the contest had been “decided by music industry professionals and, you, viewers at home, each with a 50 percent stake in the result.”
The Ukrainian entry had won “thanks to broad support from both the juries as well as televoters,” the EBU said, adding that Jamala had done so through “an outstanding performance of an emotional song, telling a personal story.”
Although the statement fell short of admitting any problems with the voting system, it sought to explain popular upset at the result stating that “Australia’s Dami Im won the jury vote and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev won the televoting.”
Both acts deserved “credit for their world-class performances,” the EBU said, adding that they had taken their loss “as true professionals.” Added the organization: “They may not have won the contest, but responded to the outcome as winners. We respect and appreciate them for that.”
Acknowledging that “not everyone agrees with the outcome of this year’s contest,” the statement insisted that the result was valid and appealed to the petitioners to “embrace the result” and to continue “a constructive dialog about how to further strengthen and improve the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Danish jury member Hilda Heick said her “heart stopped” when she realized she had given her top song, Australia’s “Sound of Silence,” 1 point and her least favorite, Ukraine’s, 26, after misunderstanding a new system of listing all entries. Her mistake meant the Danish jury overall gave Ukraine 12 points, when without her error, it would have given none at all.
If she had voted correctly, it would have had no impact on the final result though, but it would have narrowed the distance between Ukraine and second-place winner Australia.
Saturday’s result was also protested by Russian politicians, who insisted that Jamala’s song, about the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars by Stalin in 1944, was political rather than personal, and designed as a snub to Russia over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region two years ago.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.