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Dutch contestant Joost Klein expelled from Eurovision final By Reuters

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

MALMO, Sweden (Reuters) -Dutch contestant Joost Klein has been expelled from Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest final after a complaint by a member of the production crew, organisers said, adding to the headaches for host Sweden as it also grapples with anti-Israel protests.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had said on Friday it was investigating an incident involving Klein, 26, whose quirky song “Europapa” had made him one of the favourites.

The 68th version of the contest, normally a festival of catchy songs and tongue-in-cheek kitsch, is taking place amid protests in host city Malmo over the participation of Israel, due to its war in Gaza.

Swedish police earlier on Saturday said a man had been questioned for threatening a Eurovision employee inside Malmo Arena following the competition’s second semi-final on Thursday.

The person was not detained, police said without naming the individual, adding the matter had been referred to a prosecutor.

“While the legal process takes its course, it would not be appropriate for him (Joost) to continue in the Contest,” the EBU said in a statement.

A representative for Klein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS said in an emailed statement that it was “shocked” the EBU’s decision and considered it “disproportionate”.

Bookmakers have Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, real name Marko Purišić, 28, with “Rim Tim Tagi Dim”, a song about a young man who leaves home aspiring to become a “city boy” with better opportunities, as front-runner to win the contest.

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Israeli solo artist Eden Golan, 20, and her song “Hurricane” also qualified for Saturday’s final, with betting odds on Friday showing her as one of the leading contenders too.

The list of favourites also includes Swiss rapper and singer Nemo, 24, performing “The Code”, a drum-and-bass, opera, rap and rock tune, about Nemo’s journey of self-discovery as a non-binary person.

Other nations high on betting list include France, the Netherlands, Italy, Ukraine and Ireland, while streaming data from Spotify (NYSE:) has also suggested a chance for host nation Sweden.


Billed as a feel-good celebration of European diversity, this year’s contest has been thrust into the political spotlight with protesters – online and on the streets of Malmo – calling for Israel to be excluded from the competition.

Eurovision organisers have resisted such calls, but demanded that Israel tweak the lyrics of its original entry to remove what they said were references to the Oct. 7 attack.

Some booing was heard from the crowd before, during and after Golan’s performance in the semi-finals on Thursday, but there was also applause and Israeli flags being waved, according to a Reuters journalist in the auditorium.

In central Malmo, more than 10,000 pro-Palestinian campaigners, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, staged a non-violent protest ahead of the semi-final, waiving Palestinian flags and shouting “boycott Israel”.

A smaller group of pro-Israeli supporters, including members of Malmo’s Jewish community, also staged a peaceful demonstration in the city, defending Golan and her right to take part in the contest.

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More demonstrations are planned for Saturday and again expected to draw thousands of protesters. There will also be an alternative music festival in the city that has billed itself as the “genocide-free song contest”.

Protesters have complained of double standards as the EBU banned Russia from Eurovision in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine.

“Of course people want to express their own opinions and stuff like that. But for us, you know, it’s just a dream and an honour to be a part of Eurovision,” Marcus Gunnarsen, of duo Marcus & Martinus, which is representing Sweden, told Reuters.

“So we haven’t focused too much on that and just know that Eurovision is about, you know, uniting people and having a party and having a good time together.”

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