May 22, 2024

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Switzerland wins Eurovision after a politically charged song contest overshadowed by the Israeli controversy

Switzerland wins Eurovision after a politically charged song contest overshadowed by the Israeli controversy



CNN

Switzerland’s Nemo won a chaotic and politically charged election Eurovision Song Contestvictorious in a competition held in Sweden that was overshadowed by controversy and boos about the Israeli presence.

The usually fun event – one of the most watched on the global cultural calendar – has descended into turmoil in recent days, as organizers tried and failed to contain the anger directed at the Israeli delegation.

But Nemo, a favorite throughout the process, won over the crowd with a stunning performance of “The Code,” a genre-bending anthem about their journey toward accepting their non-binary identity.

“I hope this competition will fulfill its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person,” Nemo said after accepting the trophy.

Their win – the first ever for a non-binary person at Eurovision – was Switzerland’s first since Celine Dion’s win in 1988.

Malmö hosted the contest on the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision breakthrough, but the event soon found itself hovering around an uncomfortable political spotlight, and tensions reached a peak in the hours before the final.

Protesters said the event was an “artistic whitewash” of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since it was launched following the October 7 attacks on Israel.

But the contest’s organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), have staunchly defended the Israeli presence, insisting that the contest is apolitical – a line that became increasingly untenable as performers, broadcasters and fans clashed over the presence of Israeli singer Eden Golan.

Golan was booed by some audience members during her performance, while some turned their backs or left the arena, but more attendees welcomed the Israeli performance.

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Outside the square, police surrounded a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, keeping them separated from the crowds who arrived for the event chanting “Free Palestine, free!” And “Boycott Eurovision.”

But the European Broadcasting Union will be relieved that the final – one of the most tense events in Eurovision history – passed largely without incident.

Eurovision was “bigger and crazier than I expected,” Nimmo told CNN before the final. “There’s a lot of depth to Eurovision that I didn’t know before.”

“If I win, I will have a big party on the lake in my hometown, Belle,” they told CNN.

One competitor was disqualified just hours before the event – ​​Dutch racer Joost Klein, who was ejected from the final after a backstage “incident”. The EBU provided few details about this incident, but angry fans made their anger at the decision clear during the final by booing EBU representatives when they appeared on screen.

Meanwhile, Irishman Bambi Thug told CNN in the lead-up to the event that it was “the wrong decision” not to exclude Israel, as Russia did two years ago.

Saturday night’s showcase event featured celebrations by ABBA and other Swedish music stars, and performances by 26 finalists that ranged across genre, language and style.

Next year’s event will be held in Switzerland, after Nemo’s victory. The date and city hosting the competition will be announced in the coming months.