Eurovision entries perform after pro-Palestine protests and Dutch disqualification

The buildup to the Eurovision 2024 final was full of controversy, as ITV News' Vincent McAviney reports.

The Eurovision Song Contest final got underway following a buildup full of controversy, as pro-Palestine protests took place, a participant called for peace and multiple juries resigned.

On Saturday, Dutch act Joost Klein was disqualified following a Swedish police investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female TV worker at the Malmo Arena in Sweden.

Large protests took place in the centre of the city ahead of Israel's participation with singer Eden Golan, who performed her song Hurricane to a mixed reaction from the audience.

The 20-year-old faced loud jeers and boos, but there was also strong support for her, as claps and cheers could be heard.

Israel's Eden Golan performs at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Credit: AP

Irish entry Bambie Thug, who had earlier missed rehearsals over a "rule break" by an Israeli broadcaster, said "love will always triumph hate" at the end of their performance, while Portugal’s entry Iolanda said “peace will prevail”.

Irish singer Bambie Thug Credit: AP

The performances came after a day of controversy and protests, as demonstrators shouted "free Palestine" and "shame" to fans entering the arena.

Several protestors, including Swedish climate activist Great Thunberg, were forcibly detained and taken away by police.

Greta Thunberg is led away by police following a pro-Palestine protest at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Credit: AP

During the dress rehearsals, French contestant Slimane stopped singing Mon Amour to call for peace amid the war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Slimane said: "Sorry I don’t speak English very well but when I was a child I dreamed about music, I dreamed about this dream, to be a singer and to sing peace here.

“Every artist here wants to sing about love and sing about peace.

“We need to be united by music yes, but with love for peace. United by music yes, but with love for peace. Thank you so much, thank you Europe.”

Also during the rehearsals, Palestinian flags – which had been banned by the organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – had been seen in the audience.

Ahead of the final, Alessandra Mele posted to Instagram to say she would no longer be the person who announces the points awarded by Norway during Eurovision, as she claimed the motto of Eurovision about unity was "just empty words" amid the "genocide" in Gaza.

Meanwhile Kaarija, the spokesperson for the Finnish jury, stepped down as he said announcing the points “does not feel right”.

The grand final, broadcast to an estimated 180 million people worldwide, was reduced to 25 performers rather than 26 after Dutch act Joost Klein's disqualification, which Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS said it considered to be "disproportionate".

Joost Klein at a press conference Credit: Jessica Gow/AP

“We deeply regret this and will come back to this later,” AVROTROS said in a statement.

The EBU has been approached for comment.

Meanwhile, Bambie Thug accused the Israeli broadcaster, Kan, of a rule break, after the singer missed their final rehearsals.

Bambie previously hit out at Israel’s representative and had been outspoken about their pro-Palestine views.

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