Switzerland Eurovision spokesperson denies winner considered pulling out of contest

A spokesperson for Eurovision has denied that the 2024 winner considered pulling out of the contest at the last minute.

The grand final of this year’s competition was held in Malmö, Sweden on Saturday May 11. Nemo won for Switzerland with ‘The Code’, and became Eurovision’s first-ever non-binary winner. It also marked the first victory for the country since 1988, when Celine Dion entered with ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’.

READ MORE: Eurovision 2024 – fans and boycotters speak: “This is bigger than the contest”

However, the 2024 edition of the event was mired by widespread political backlash over the inclusion of Israel amid the Hamas-Israel conflict.

Numerous contestants, including Ireland’s Bambie Thug and the UK’s Olly Alexander, faced pressure to boycott the event in solidarity with Palestine. But in a collective statement, the two reaffirmed their pro-Palestine stance and confirmed that they would not boycott.

Additionally, over 1,000 Swedish artists called for Israel to be banned, including RobynFever Ray, and First Aid Kit, while more than 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals signed a petition to stop the country from taking part.

Israel ultimately competed at the final, despite contestant Eden Golan being booed by the audience during a dress rehearsal. Her song ‘Hurricane’ earned 323 points from the voting public (the second most in the competition), and 52 from the jury. It was later revealed that Eurovision 2024 broke global viewing figures, despite the widespread controversy and protests.

Earlier this week, it was reported that six countries almost pulled out of this month’s song contest – just 25 minutes before the live grand final. These were listed as the winning Switzerland, as well as Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Greece and the United Kingdom.

This walkout would have resulted in only 19 countries competing in the final stage of the competition, and left producers with nearly 20 minutes of airtime to fill at the last minute, according to Norwegian newspaper VG (via WiwiBloggs).

Now, the head of Switzerland’s delegation to the contest has denied the reports. During a new interview, Yves Schifferle said that “on the one hand there was never any thought of withdrawing from the contest” (via Eurovision Fun).

Schifferle also emphasised that there was “no critical meeting” between the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the host brodcaster SVT in the last few minutes before the grand final started.

“Any meetings that did take place were between artists and EBU representatives and concerned various incidents that took place behind the scenes,” he continued.

The article went on to state that some acts had “sought talks with the EBU regarding certain etiquette in the backstage area”.

Eurovision Fun noted that further denials are expected to follow from other delegations:
“According to our own on-the-spot reporting in Malmö, all these rumours and publications concerning alleged withdrawals from the competition had no basis.”

The outlet claimed that participating artists are not able to “leave [Eurovision] so easily, especially at the last minute” because they would be “bound by contracts and possible penalty clauses”.

It was previously reported that “the entire final day became one long crisis meeting” for the EBU and SVT.

Greece’s broadcaster ERT has since denied any plans to withdraw too. A spokesperson told Eurovision Fun: “We never discussed or considered withdrawing from the competition for any reason. The publication (VG) is incorrect at least when it comes to Greece.”

One of the most vocal about their temptation to pull out of Eurovision 2024 was Magnus Børmark, a member of the Norwegian band Gåte. “We were considering withdrawing until the last moment. Many of us reacted to the fact that Israel had the opportunity to use Eurovision as its own political tool,” the guitarist explained.

“Our common point was that we did not want to participate in Eurovision to be used and stigmatised in a war propaganda machine in Israel. We participated to create a space where we can unite in music – in a political situation where everyone chooses sides and hates each other.

“It seemed as if there was one set of rules for Israel, another for the rest… There is something wrong when you experience it. The artists should not have to have a crisis meeting with the EBU.”

The post Switzerland Eurovision spokesperson denies winner considered pulling out of contest appeared first on NME.

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