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Switzerland's Nemo Triumphs Amid Gaza War Protests at 68th Eurovision
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 11, 2024

Swiss singer Nemo wins the 68th Eurovision Song Contest with "The Code" amid protests over the Gaza War and controversies surrounding the event, including the expulsion of a Dutch contender and disruptions due to protests against Israel's participation. (AP/Martin Meissner)

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MALMO, Sweden — Swiss singer Nemo won the 68th Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night with “The Code,” an operatic ode to the singer’s journey toward embracing their nongender identity.

Nemo beat Croatia’s Baby Lasagna to the title by winning the most points from a combination of national juries and viewers around the world.

Protests Regarding the Gaza War

The victory in the Swedish city of Malmo followed a turbulent year for the pan-continental pop contest that saw large street protests against the participation of Israel that tipped the feelgood musical celebration into a chaotic pressure cooker overshadowed by the war in Gaza.

Before the final, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Malmo to oppose the participation of Israel. Separately, Dutch contender Joost Klein was expelled from the contest over a backstage altercation that is being investigated by police.

Competition organizer the European Broadcasting Union said a female member of the production crew had made a complaint against the 26-year-old Dutch singer and rapper, who had been a favorite of both bookmakers and fans with his song “Europapa.”

Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS, one of dozens of public broadcasters that collectively fund and broadcast the contest, said that as Klein came offstage after Thursday’s semifinal, he was filmed without his consent and in turn made a “threatening movement” toward the camera.

The broadcaster said Klein didn’t touch the camera or the camera operator, and called his expulsion “disproportionate.”

Protests Overshadowed the Competition

The protests and dissent overshadowed a competition that has become a campy celebration of Europe’s varied — and sometimes baffling — musical tastes and a forum for inclusiveness and diversity with a huge LGBT following.

The competitors performed in front of a live audience of thousands and an estimated 180 million viewers around the world. Each contestant had three minutes to meld catchy tunes and eye-popping spectacle into performances capable of winning the hearts of millions of viewers. Musical styles ranged across rock, disco, techno and rap — sometimes a mashup of more than one.

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