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Eurovision disqualifies Dutch act over ‘inappropriate behaviour’ allegations

Joost Klein has been disqualified from the Eurovision grand final (Jessica Gow/TT News Agency via AP)
Joost Klein has been disqualified from the Eurovision grand final (Jessica Gow/TT News Agency via AP)

Dutch act Joost Klein has been disqualified from the Eurovision Song Contest grand final following a Swedish police investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour, the European Broadcasting Union said.

Entering with the song Europapa, a tribute to his late parents, the 26-year-old rapper and singer from the Netherlands had qualified for the grand final on Thursday evening at the Malmo Arena venue in Sweden.

The official page of the Netherlands’ Songfestival, which sends acts to Eurovision, said it is “shocked” and finds the decision “disproportionate”.

There will be one less contestant in the televised final on Saturday as the UK’s Olly Alexander, Ireland’s Bambie Thug and Israel’s Eden Golan all compete along with 22 other countries.

A statement from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said: “The Dutch artist Joost Klein will not be competing in the grand final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“Swedish police have investigated a complaint made by a female member of the production crew after an incident following his performance in Thursday night’s semi-final.

“While the legal process takes its course, it would not be appropriate for him to continue in the contest.

“We would like to make it clear that, contrary to some media reports and social media speculation, this incident did not involve any other performer or delegation member.

“We maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behaviour at our event and are committed to providing a safe and secure working environment for all staff at the contest.

“In light of this, Joost Klein’s behaviour towards a team member is deemed in breach of contest rules.

“The grand final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest will now proceed with 25 participating songs.”

In a follow-up statement, the EBU said viewers from the Netherlands will still be allowed to vote in the grand final and added that the Dutch jury result is still valid.

All contestants will keep their number in the official running order and there will be no song in position number five, the statement said.

It added that the jury results received after dress rehearsal two on Friday May 10 have been recalculated so that the Netherlands will not receive any points.

“No points will be awarded to the Netherlands from the viewing public,” the EBU said.

“The EBU will inform all telecommunications partners that the Netherlands is no longer participating and we will endeavour to block the lines for song five.”

Swedish and Dutch news outlets have reported that he is being investigated after an incident involving a television production worker.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest Dress Rehearsal
Joost Klein arrives on stage for the introducing of the artists at the dress rehearsal for the final on Friday (Martin Meissner/AP/PA)

A spokeswoman for the Swedish Police Authority said in a statement to the PA news agency: “A man is suspected of unlawful threats. The crime is said to have been committed at Malmo Arena on Thursday evening.

“The man is questioned by the police but not detained. The plaintiff is an employee at Eurovision.

“The police have taken all essential investigative measures and questioned the suspect, plaintiff and witnesses. The investigation has been completed by the police.

“The case follows the normal legal process. The police have used faster prosecution and the case will now go to the prosecutor within a few weeks.”

After his disqualification, Albania’s entry, Besa Kokedhima, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Please bring Joost back!”

The favourites to lift the trophy included Croatia’s Baby Lasagna with the infectious and wild Rim Tim Tagi Dim, Switzerland’s Nemo with the emotional dance-opera mix The Code and Golan with the emotional Hurricane.

Golan, 20, was first set to compete with a previous track called October Rain, which was thought to reference the Hamas attacks on Israel that sparked the conflict.

Israel being in Eurovision has also been mired in controversy as protests have taken place across Sweden in the lead-up to the contest.

On Thursday ahead of the semi-final where Golan qualified, Greta Thunberg joined pro-Palestinian protesters on the streets of Malmo.

The 21-year-old Swedish activist claimed on social media that Israel is trying to “artwash” the contest, referencing the use of artistic performance to distract from perceived negative actions, and accusing the country of genocide in the Gaza strip.

Israel has strongly denied any accusations of genocide and maintained it has the right to defend itself following the attacks launched by Hamas in October that saw more than 1,000 Israelis killed and kidnapped.

Meanwhile, Bambie has been given an outside chance to win as the underdog has been regularly trending on social media with the hashtag “crown the witch”, a reference to their outspoken use of magical practices and the entrant song Doomsday Blue, which has lines about “hexes”.

They have been critical of Israel competing in the contest and called for a ceasefire in the Middle East.

Bambie also told reporters that they “cried” with their team following the news that Israel was in the final.

On Saturday’s last day of Eurovision there also expected to be a tribute to Abba as it is the 50-year anniversary of the Swedish group winning with their hit song Waterloo as well as a performance by 2023 Liverpool winner Loreen, who represented Sweden.