Switzerland wins Eurovision after song contest politically influenced by Israel controversy


Switzerland's Nemo won a chaotic and politically charged Eurovision Song Contest, overcoming Sweden in a contest that was overshadowed by controversy and outrage over Israel's presence.

The normally joyous event – ​​one of the most-watched events on the world's cultural calendar – descended into turmoil in recent days, as organizers tried and failed to contain anger towards Israel's delegation.

But throughout the proceedings, fan favorite Nemo won over the crowd with a stellar rendition of “The Code,” a genre-bending song about his journey toward accepting his non-binary identity.

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

Her win – the first 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 breakout, but the event soon found itself uncomfortably in the political spotlight, and tensions reached a fever pitch in the hours leading up to the final.

Protesters said the program was a “betrayal” of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since it was launched in the wake of the militant group's October 7 attacks on Israel.

But organizer EBU (European Broadcasting Union) sharply defended Israel's presence, insisting that the contest is non-political – a line that became increasingly untenable as artists, broadcasters and fans of Israel's singer Eden Golan There was a clash over the presence of

Golan was booed by some members of the crowd during his performance, while some turned their backs or left the arena, but most attendees applauded the Israeli performance.

And outside the arena, police surrounded a small group of pro-Palestine protesters, separating them from the crowd arriving for the event as they chanted “Free, free Palestine!” Were raising slogans. and “Boycott Eurovision.”

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

Nemo told CNN before the final that Eurovision was “bigger and crazier than I expected.” There's so much depth to Eurovision that I didn't know before.

“If I win, I'll throw a big party on Lake Biel in my hometown,” he told CNN.

One competitor was disqualified just hours before the event – ​​Dutch competitor Joost Klein, who was eliminated from the final after an “incident” backstage. The EBU offered few details about the incident, but furious fans expressed their anger at the decision by criticizing EBU representatives when they appeared on screen during the final.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Bambi Thug told CNN in preparation for the event that it was a “wrong decision” not to single out Israel, as Russia did two years ago.

Saturday night's showpiece show celebrated ABBA and other Swedish music stars, and the 26 finalists showcased style, language and style.

Following Nemo's win, next year's event will be held in Switzerland. The date and city to host the competition will be announced in the coming months.

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