Nemo wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland

The run-up to this Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest final in Malmo, Sweden was unusually tense and agonizing, with months of protests over Israel's participation in the contest, with a contestant suspended hours before the show started and police There was a clash between supporters. Palestinian protesters outside the grounds at night.

But when the finals started the commotion quickly disappeared. Instead of protests and outrage, there was the usual high-camp spectacle, featuring singers expressing feelings of lost love, nearly naked dancers and, at one point, a cast emerging from a giant egg.

At the end of the four-hour show, Nemo, representing Switzerland, won with “The Code”, a catchy track in which the nonbinary artist rapped and sang about his journey of realizing his identity. “I've been to hell and back / To get myself on the right track,” Nemo sings in the chorus: “Now, I've got heaven / I broke the code.”

The display was presented when Nemo, whose real name is Nemo Mettler and who uses they/them pronouns, was balanced on a giant rotating disk.

Nemo is Switzerland's first Eurovision winner since Celine Dion in 1988, who represented the country despite being Canadian. They received 591 points from the music industry juries in the participating countries and domestic audiences in the contest, defeating the rock act Baby Lasagna representing Croatia, who finished second with 547 points.

Israeli singer Eden Golan, who was the subject of protests before the event, finished fifth, scoring 375 points.

On Saturday night, when Golan performed his song “Hurricane”, some in the audience booed, while other fans cheered to quell the noise.

Since Israel's offensive on Gaza began following a Hamas attack on October 7 that Israeli officials say killed nearly 1,200 people and took 240 hostage, cultural organizations around the world have been struggling to How artists should respond to conflict off their stage, however, is something Eurovision has found to be a particular challenge.

Pro-Palestinian groups and many Eurovision fans spent months trying in vain to get the contest organizers, the European Broadcasting Union, to ban Israel from participating because of its actions in Gaza, which officials there say have killed more than 34,000 people. More people have been killed and displaced. 1.7 million. Activists said there is precedent: In 2022, Eurovision banned Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

The European Broadcasting Union has repeatedly rejected those calls, saying the show is a competition between singers, not nations.

Although Israel is not part of Europe, it is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, and the country has competed in Eurovision since 1973, winning four times. Other non-European countries, including Australia, also compete in the show, the finals of which attract live TV audiences of millions.

In Malmö this week, controversy over Israel's participation was always present, and not just in pro-Palestine marches. Eurovision organizers had banned the display of slogans or symbols, including Palestinian flags, which they said could incite dissent. During a rehearsal this week, two spectators waved banned flags, but security staff quickly removed the items.

Pop singer Slimane, representing France, also stopped singing during that rehearsal to call for peace. “Sorry, I don't speak English very well,” he said: “Every artist here wants to sing about love and sing about peace.”

In the final, pro-Palestinian demonstrations on stage included small gestures. Iolanda, a singer representing Portugal, performed wearing fake nails printed with a checkered pattern, which was seen on the kaffiyeh, the scarf that symbolizes the Palestinian cause.

The uproar over Israel's participation was not the only crisis surrounding the competition this week. Hours before Saturday's final, organizers banned Netherlands player Joost Klein from participating. That morning, Swedish police said in a statement that a man was “suspected of making unlawful threats” towards a Eurovision employee and that authorities had sent a file to prosecutors to consider charges. Eurovision organizers said in a statement that Klein was a person under investigation and that it “would not be appropriate” for him to compete in the final.

The Dutch public broadcaster AvroTros, which had chosen Klein to represent the Netherlands, objected to his disqualification. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the broadcaster said the organizers' actions were “disproportionate.” The statement said Klein had taken “threatening actions” toward a female camera operator who filmed her without her consent. She had, but she hadn't actually done it. Touched him.

Before Saturday's final, some fans in the field sang Clyne's song to protest his absence.

But when the votes were counted and the winner was crowned, the evening ended on an optimistic note. After accepting the winner's trophy, Nemo tearfully said, “I hope this contest will live up to its promise, and stand for peace and dignity for every person in this world.”

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