The Dutch entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest skipped a dress rehearsal performance on Friday due to a “backstage incident”.

Organisers did not elaborate on the incident that led to Joost Klein missing the performance.

Klein’s props were already onstage at the Malmo Arena and everything was set for him to perform. His song was skipped without explanation.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the annual song contest, later said they were "investigating an incident that was reported to us involving the Dutch artist".

It is unclear what the incident was. But Klein's absence sent the Eurovision rumour mill into overdrive.  

Klein has clashed with Israeli journalists in the run-up to this year’s contest and unconfirmed claims made online suggested the incident involved a clash between himself and Israel’s entry, Eden Golan.

At a press conference after the second semi-final, Klein repeatedly covered his face with a Dutch flag, seemingly signifying he didn't agree with being placed next to Golan.

Friday’s dress rehearsal performance was intended to show to national juries in each of the participating countries. Juries’ vote will be made public at the end of Saturday’s grand finale.

Juries will now be shown a taped version of Klein’s semi final performance instead.

The EBU said it had no further comment to make about the incident.


The Dutch entry was among bookmakers’ favourite for victory. So too is Israel’s entry.

But this year’s Eurovision Song Contest final – which will not feature Malta for the third consecutive year – has been overshadowed by controversy concerning Israel.

Police say up to 20,000 demonstrators are expected to rally against Israel's participation in Malmo, whose more than 360,000 inhabitants represent 186 nationalities, many from the Middle East.     

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which oversees the event, confirmed in March the participation of Israel's contestant Eden Golan, despite calls for her exclusion from thousands of musicians around the world.

More recently, nine of the acts, seven of whom are finalists, have called for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza.


Golan's song is an adaptation of an earlier version named "October Rain", which she modified after organisers deemed it too political because of its apparent allusions to the Hamas attack.

The EBU, which suspended Russia in the wake of the war in Ukraine, insists it does not play politics.

Last year it banned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from speaking in the arena to protect the event's neutrality.

This neutrality was challenged on Tuesday by Swedish singer Eric Saade, who took part in the opening number of the competition wearing a keffiyeh around his arm.

Two days later, the unions at Belgian broadcaster VRT briefly interrupted transmission of the second semi-final to broadcast a message in support of the Palestinians.

"We condemn the violations of human rights by the state of Israel," the message said in Dutch, accompanied by the hashtags #CeasefireNow and #StopGenocide.

Inside the Malmo Arena, where organisers have banned all flags other than those of the participating countries, it's all neon lights, bright costumes and upbeat melodies.

Last year's showpiece in Britain's Liverpool "was a huge party, a celebration thrown in Putin's face", anthropologist and Eurovision specialist Lisanne Wilken told AFP, referring to Russia's leader.

"This year it really is more difficult for Sweden to position itself," she added.

Security tightened

To gain access to the Malmo Arena, the some 9,000 spectators have to pass through a reinforced security system designed in particular to discourage protesters from approaching. 

Police have said there are no threats directed at the competition, but their presence has been strengthened with reinforcements from Norway and Denmark.

Sally Sadler, a music fan from the UK, said the protests had dampened the spirit of Eurovision "a little bit".

"But it's all about unity and music. We're all here together, all nations, for love not hate," she told AFP.

For the fans, it is now time for rhinestones and lively rhythms and the 2024 edition offers a wide range of musical genres.

Several acts "are about mental health, many young artists express that they are not feeling well and are struggling with their identities", Andreas Onnerfors, professor of the history of ideas and a Eurovision specialist, told AFP.

"Another clear theme is religious and spiritual allusions. Then there is the classic range of love songs from disappointment to innocent infatuation," he continued.

Correction May 11, 2024: A previous version stated that Malta has missed the final for four consecutive years. It is three.

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