Joost Klein: Dutch contestant disqualified from Eurovision Song Contest

  • by mark savage
  • Music correspondent, BBC News

Dutch artist Joost Klein has been disqualified from the Eurovision Song Contest after a backstage incident.

The cast has been sent home after a female member of the production crew accused Swedish police of bullying.

In a statement, contest organizers said that “it would not be appropriate for him to continue in the contest while the legal process is ongoing”.

Dutch broadcaster Evertotros called the boycott of Klein “disproportionate”.

In a statement on social media, the company said it was “appalled by this decision” and would “come back to this later”.

image Source, Arvotros/Instagram

Klein was one of the favorites to win this year's contest with his song, Europapa.

A pro-Europe techno anthem, it was dedicated to his father, whom he lost to cancer when he was 12.

The now 26-year-old singer had promised his father that he would one day reach the Eurovision stage.

News of his suspension emerged on Friday afternoon during a dress rehearsal ahead of Saturday's televised grand final.

Klein's props were being set up on stage inside the Malmö Arena when a production manager indicated that they should be removed.

His song was then discarded without explanation, and Israel's entrant Eden Golan, who was next in the running order, took his place.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the event, later released a statement saying they were “investigating an incident involving a Dutch artist that we were informed about”.

'zero tolerance'

On Saturday, Swedish police confirmed that after Thursday's semi-final, a man was reported to have made an “unlawful threat” at the Malmö Arena.

A spokesperson said, “Police have taken all necessary investigative measures and have interviewed the suspect, plaintiff and witnesses.”

“The police have completed the investigation… and the case will now go to the prosecutor in a few weeks.”

The EBU later confirmed that Klein would not participate in Saturday's grand final.

“We maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior at our event and are committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees at the competition,” he said.

“In light of this, Joost Klein's behavior towards the team member is considered a breach of the competition rules.”

Although contestants have been disqualified from Eurovision in the past, no one has lost their place so close to the final.

Usually, songs are rejected in the selection stage. In 2021, the Belarusian entry was banned after refusing to change the song, as the contest was deemed political in nature; While in 2016, Romania was barred from participating due to outstanding debt to the EBU.

image Caption, International media gather outside Klein's hotel in Malmö, Sweden

Swedish and Dutch news outlets have said that the incident involved Klein and a member of the television production team.

Organizers stressed that “contrary to some media reports and social media speculation, no other artists or delegation members were involved in the incident”.

Initial reports suggested that there was animosity between Klein and Israel's competitor, as feelings ran high over the Israel–Gaza war.

At the Eurovision press conference on Thursday, Golan was asked if he “ever thought that by being here you bring risk and danger to the other participants and the public?”

When the Israeli singer was told by the moderator that she did not have to answer the question, Klein said: “Why not?”

Golan replied: “I think we are all here for the same reason, and one reason only, and the EBU is taking all the safety precautions to make this a safe and united place for everyone, and so I Think it's safe for everyone and we'll do it Don't stay here [if not],

Earlier, when Klein was asked if his song could live up to the Eurovision slogan and unite people musically, he replied: “I think that's a good question for the EBU.”

image Caption, Klein (left) appears at a press conference with Israeli competitor Eden Golan (second right) on Thursday night

Saturday's grand final will now go ahead with 25 acts instead of the planned 26 acts.

Dutch viewers are still allowed to vote, and the Dutch jury result (which was decided during Friday's second dress rehearsal) is still valid.

It would not be possible for another act to replace Klein, partly due to the difficulty of adding new elements to the production at the last minute.

Organizers will also be unwilling to promote the 11th-place contestant eliminated from Thursday's semi-final, as that would violate rules on disclosing the results of the public vote.

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