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The Final Day Of Tension At Eurovision 2024 Written by on May 11, 2024 | 9 Comments

Ben Robertson discusses his feelings and the mood in Malmö on the day of the 2024 Eurovision Grand Final. 

It’s the day of the Eurovision Grand Final, the day when a new artist will take the trophy, the day that many of us in the community look forward to like it is Christmas. But today is not a day of celebration, of colours and joy. Today, my feelings are grey.

I have never known a build-up to a Song Contest so full of tension and ill-feeling. Yes, a lot of that is because of the cloud over this competition that the Israeli participation brings. It brings extra security, extra division between people, and extra reasons to be protective over your emotions. It’s a competition where numerous acts booked to come to Malmö have been cancelled, headlines have been marred by protests both on and off the stage and puts the Contest into newspaper headlines in ways none of us would want to see.

There is currently a police investigation into a backstage incident involving Joost Klein and he will not be in tonight’s show. The EBU has stated “while the legal process takes its course, it would not be appropriate for [Klein] to continue in the Contest.” The Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS believes disqualification is disproportionate. This is another incident that adds to the stress and anxiety of Eurovision 2024.

That Eurovision produces drama is one reason we love it. Changes that make our voting reveal end on that dramatic split-screen head-to-head finale make up brilliant entertainment. But now, the drama isn’t confined to the scoreboard points. It’s real-life tension, fuelled by conflicts, terrible losses of life, and now we have a spiral that means Israel’s participation at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is one of the biggest talking points in town.

Israel’s participation is the reason for much of the protesting this season, and explains why artists have been guarded about their actions, and why security around Malmö has needed support from police forces from other nations. It is one reason the community has been divided and why the stress levels of all covering this edition in Malmö are high.

The accidental reveal of what has been called “incomplete” voting data from Italy’s televote in the Semi Final suggests not only that Israel won the 12 points from Italy, they won by such a large margin one would expect Israel to have scored 12 points from many countries. The impact of the Italian broadcast results pushed Israel into second place in the odds of winning the Song Contest.

In the current political climate, it is unlikely that all 36 other European broadcasters would accept an Israeli-hosted Eurovision Song Contest or one co-organised by broadcaster KAN. Aftonbladet’s Tobbe Ek claims that the possibility of withdrawing in that scenario has already been discussed internally within broadcasters. With a Dutch broadcaster in open disagreement about the treatment of their artist, those jumps to leaving and not returning look closer than ever.

We’ve not had an organised boycott of the Song Contest by broadcasters since 1970. That boycott then was believed to have been in protest to the organisation of the Contest, and a setup that allowed 4 winners in 1969 without a tie-break option. An Israeli victory wouldn’t just see some broadcasters look for a way out of the Song Contest, it would also bring the Contest into a political sphere that make everything political in Eurovision previously look like child’s play.

Tonight We Decide The Winner

I’m sorry for spelling out some doom and gloom today of all days, but there are few in the Eurovision community who are in the mood for partying on our day of celebration. The air is tense in the Malmö Arena press centre, with press conferences cancelled and broadcasters making pointed statements about the need for their journalists to have their free speech respected. The morning of the Grand Final saw protesters occupy the offices of Finnish broadcaster YLE, demanding once again for their broadcaster to boycott the Contest. We know that tonight’s show is full of Dutch ticketholders, the third highest country with ticket sales tonight were The Netherlands. They were here for a celebratory party – but what do they celebrate now?

Today is Grand Final day, and one of the most important in the Song Contest’s history. The odds have a Croatia victory with Israel in second. The latter winning would risk fragmenting the relationships between the EBU and its broadcasters, while a win for the former would be an underdog hero going from the reserve list at Dora to lifting the trophy in Malmo, and we know the arena is booked and ready.

It’s time for the continent to decide.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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9 responses to “The Final Day Of Tension At Eurovision 2024”

  1. RM1990 says:

    I must admit, Eurovision Day has always brought me to a happy place when things in life have not always been so positive. For the first time ever, it has not given me that joy and positivity. I am not sure I can even watch the voting if the result that could potentially happen would lead to the contest itself being in dire calamity. Thank you Ben for that analysis, a very well written piece under duress I am sure.

  2. Dres says:

    Thank you for writing this. A very fair and accurate summary of what has been happening and how many of us feel.

  3. johnpegan says:

    It’s a shame the EBU has handled this so badly. If a delegation feels the only safe way to participate is to sequester their artist in their hotel room, clearly their presence is too difficult to manage safely for everyone else. I suspect there will be a number of countries withdrawing next year if the Gaza conflict remains front of mind in Europe and the EBU insists on allowing KAN to send a representative.

    But multiply this 1000x and you get the challenge for the Paris Olympics.

  4. Eurojock says:

    Whatever one’s political views on Israel v Hamas, from a pragmatic position there are times when a country’s participation in Eurovision is just too difficult and divisive to allow. Russia/Belarus in 2022 was one such occasion. Israel 2024 should probably have been another.

  5. Eric Lorenz says:

    I doubt that Israel or the Ukraine would have taken so many televotes without the “20 votes per telephone” system.
    One vote shows preference, twenty votes an effort to manipulate the result.

  6. Roo says:

    What to expect from Eurovision 2025? Some major organisational reviews need to be made or broadcasters will not be participating. Swedish smugness about hosting so many Eurovisions have not prepared them for this. We have had discontent before but never anything like this. I always thought whatever happens Eurovision will still go on but now we are looking at a situations were actually broadcasters are angry, not just fans who may have lost sight of things.
    Things obviously need to be less stressful for the contestants too or it will be hard to convince acts to participate. Does there need to be so many press conferences and does there need to be filming backstage? Considering this was allegedly the issue with Joost. I can imagine it is stressful backstage without having to perform for cameras or answer repetitive questions constantly.
    Thanks as always for your thoughtful articles.

  7. Marc says:

    Agree with Eric Lorenz and would go further; let’s get rid of the televote altogether. With so many displaced individuals (as celebrated in the song which placed second), it’s no longer meaningful. Let’s have more robust juries deciding the result alone. It’s going to be less predictable and other problems would fall away. Not least of which would be the time wasted and arguments provoked and confusion caused by when juries and the public don’t agree.

  8. Dres says:

    I think that it’s too late to stop televotes entirely as it is so much part of how we relate to all song and talent contests now. But allowing 20 calls is absurd and should be reduced to a number like 5. Bringing back juries to the semi finals to have equal weight as televotes should also happen. The point about such large diasporas skewing results (and this year a whole movement to support Israel as a political actor regardless of their song) is well made. The point made about Swedish smugness is also well made. They had not prepared for this. Sweden and the EBU have been naive.

  9. Jonny 537 says:

    Agree with comments about a negative vibe to the start of Saturday. The old hack in me was trying to find out who was refusing to perform and the drama surrounding it all. Rumour flying about, high powered meetings.

    There is a serious misreading of the room, firstly by Israel, who met with the initial backlash against them with a provocative song, much along the lines of Belarus’ “I’ll teach you”. It’s at that point the EBU should have pulled them to one side and said “not for you this year, chill you have more important things to worry about”. But, they did not, and the EBU created this hostile environment.

    Again, the alleged and targeted disruption by the Israeli delegation again saw the artistes get cagey around them. This probably was one of the reasons why Joost did what he did. His DQ upset my 8 and 5 year olds. But it did reawaken happy hardcore for this guy in his mid 40s

    Still another counterfactual for discussion along with the 2020 contest and if France was in 74, would ABBA had won?

    Sadly, instead of the celebrations we had in Turin and Liverpool, I felt the “let’s get this thing over with” vibe took over. Acts were fed up with the interruption of politics which overshadowed the whole build up to the contest.

    The whole final felt a bit flat and to be honest rushed, the ABBAtars was awful, whilst some jokes were on point, Petra did an ok job. I do think the only reason the other host was hired was because her mother in law invented the bucks fizz stunt. Note, if I was Mans, I’d be a little pee’d off that he was the only Swedish Eurovision not to play a part in proceedings.
    It just felt rushed, and it felt wrong to be finishing before midnight


    Juries were inadvertently lent on to not vote for Israel – names are published and for example did Louise out of Eternal want the backlash? Probably not.

    Also why not have slightly bigger juries – across a variety of genres

    Allowing 20 votes allows the skewing of diaspora votes, so bringing that down to 5 would help.

    Also, scoring the acts 25-1 points in both jury and televote means the contest is closer and there’s no ignominy of nul points, which in the modern system is unfair, degrading and discouraging to any future artists.

    Maybe in national finals put this into practice.

    A lot of work for the EBU to save this, I think we’ll be looking at least a 32 country contest next year. Discussions have to be had and I can predict heads will roll, and Martin Ostendahl, sadly mate, you’re good to go…

    Keep on going ESCinsight, it remains the best Eurovision podcast!

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