You are currently viewing Editorial: If Eurovision Is To Continue, Things Need To Change
Credit: EBU // Corinne Cumming, Sarah Louise Bennett, Alma Bengtsson

Statements made in this article are alleged by the artists or other media sources and are simply compiled into one article using reputable sources. The opinions expressed by the writer are theirs alone and do not reflect that of the EBU or any broadcaster.

It’s the early hours of May 12th 2024 – merely an hour after Switzerland won Eurovision – on one of the most turbulent weeks for the Eurovision Song Contest in its history.

Already, artists have come forward to express their negative experiences at Eurovision 2024 – but they’re not the only ones.

With the reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest reaching a point of beyond repair, where a 2025 edition seems to be in question, the contest must do more to protect artists if there is to be a future.

But where do we even begin? We must look at the situations that arose during the 2024 contest as we address Eurovision’s future, and how this edition has impacted the artists.

Eurovision 2024

Eurovision 2024 was already facing boycott calls months before the contest took place due to Israel’s inclusion following the eruption of the Israel-Hamas war which began in October of 2023. Calls for Israel to be excluded in the way Belarus and Russia were in 2021 and 2022 were strong, even beyond the fanbase bubble – which escalated the nearer we got to the contest. It’s worth noting why Russia and Belarus were disqualified from the contest – here’s a quick rundown.

Russia & Belarus Exclusion in 2021 & 2022

Belarus were disqualified in 2021, after submitting and releasing the entry ‘Ya Nachu Tebya’ by Galasy ZMesta. Initially revealed and uploaded to social media and YouTube by the Eurovision Channel, backlash immediately came from fans of Eurovision, who translated the song’s lyrics and found them to be in breach of the contest rules. After ESC was cancelled in 2020, multiple artists from that year’s planned edition were reselected – in Belarus’ case, broadcaster BTRC refused to reselect VAL, saying they had “no conscience” over their support for protests against the government. Following the release of the song, SVT removed Belarus from the Melodifestivalen jury, replacing it with the United Kingdom. Two days later, the EBU allowed Belarus to resubmit a song after disqualifying their first attempt. However, their new entry also broke the EBU’s rules, seeing Belarus be excluded from the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. Broadcaster BTRC was later suspended from the EBU.

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in 2022, calls for Russia to be excluded were directed towards the EBU. Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC requested that Russian broadcasters Channel One and VGTRK be suspended from the contest and the broadcasting union. The EBU rejected calls to remove Russia, confirming they were to remain. This was met with backlash from the following broadcasters: DR (Denmark), ERR (Estonia), SVT (Sweden), AVROTROS (The Netherlands), RÚV (Iceland), Yle (Finland), TVP (Poland) and LRT (Lithuania) as well as the Ukrainian broadcaster and Latvia’s chosen act, Citi Zeni, all of whom urged the EBU to change their decision with threats to withdraw from the contest. A day later, the EBU announced Russia would no longer be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest, most notably as ‘the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s contest would bring the competition into disrepute’. Russia then announced they had withdrawn all broadcasters from the EBU.

Israel’s Inclusion

Israel was confirmed to be one of 37 competitors of Eurovision 2024 on December 5th 2023. Their national final, HaKokhav HaBa had already been called into question due to its promotion of military action, leading to multiple fansites, including Phoenix, suspending or limiting coverage of the nation. On January 31st the EBU issued the following statement:

We understand the concerns and deeply held views around the current conflict in the Middle East. We can’t fail to be moved by the profound suffering of all those caught up in this terrible war. A lot of the images from Israel and Gaza that audiences are watching every day are provided through the EBU News Exchange, which we run with our members.
However, the Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political music event and a competition between public service broadcasters who are members of the EBU. It is not a contest between governments.

As a member-led organization, our governing bodies – the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group and the Executive Board – did review the participants list for the 2024 Contest and agreed that the Israeli public broadcaster KAN met all the competition rules for this year and can participate as it has for the past 50 years.

We are aware of the many voices calling to exclude Israel from this year’s competition in the same way as we excluded the Russian broadcaster in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine. Comparisons between wars and conflicts are complex and difficult and, as a non-political media organization, not ours to make. In the case of Russia, the Russian broadcasters themselves were suspended from the EBU due to their persistent breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service values.

The relationship between KAN and the Israeli Government is fundamentally different to the relationship that exists between those Russian Members and the State, with the Israeli Government in recent years threatening to close down the broadcaster.

The EBU is aligned with other international organizations, including sports unions and federations and other international bodies, that have similarly maintained their inclusive stance towards Israeli participants in major competitions at this time.
We remain committed to ensuring the Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that continues to unite audiences worldwide through music.

In February, Eden Golan was selected to represent Israel – her song was set to be written and recorded for release in March, with reports from Israeli media stating it would be titled ‘October Rain’. After inspection of the lyrics published by broadcaster KAN, the EBU rejected the song and another titled ‘Dance Forever’. After KAN refused to rewrite the entries, involvement from President Isaac Herzog led to the song ‘October Rain’ being re-written and re-named ‘Hurricane’, which was accepted by the EBU. This escalated calls for a boycott by Palestinian organisations and fans of the contest, who found Israel’s inclusion to be conflicting with both the EBU’s rule on the event remaining non-political, but also their comments on “disrepute” when Russia were banned back in 2022. Protests were arranged and carried out on Eurovision Week as thousands gathered outside the arena from Wednesday, with extra security and policing being brought in by Swedish authorities to protect the event in Malmö and Israel’s delegation. Artists were also called upon to boycott the event and withdraw, with the following statement published by ten of those competing in response (Belgium’s artist Mustii added their name after publishing).

Mustii spoke about the calls he and other artists had received to boycott on Radio 2 VRT:

We know that there is something wrong, we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist but I also think it’s a bit unfair sometimes to make us feel guilty – it’s not to feel like a victim – but to make the artists feel guilty. There’s a much bigger machine than us above which is responsible for the choices and if I have to be treated as an accomplice of genocide because I’m going to sing my song at Eurovision, I find that the intellectual path is a bit weak. I think it’s better to carry a message of love and hope through the songs and go with our messages rather than withdrawing. It may do one, two articles in the Belgian press but then things will continue – it won’t do much I think. So it’s better to carry a symbol on this stage but we must not be blind – we said it in that statement that was published a few days ago.

Mustii, Radio 2 VRT

Bambie Thug appeared on the Late Late Show and discussed why they decided to remain in the contest:

I stand with anyone doing the boycott. I think if I wasn’t in the competition I would also be boycotting. There are a lot of moving parts and at the end of the day without a group of us who is pro-Palestine it is less completion for the other side to win and it’s less of solidarity there. Obviously it’s incredibly heavy.

We all met up and had chats [about the statement] and we just felt strongly about…we just couldn’t stay silent on the matter but at the end of the day it’s the EBU who has to make the decision and unfortunately, in my eyes, they’re not making the right decision.

Bambie Thug, Late Late Show

Olly Alexander had received a petition from Queers for Palestine, asking him to boycott Eurovision. He spoke about the comments he had been receiving in his documentary on BBC iPlayer:

A lot of the contestants and myself have been having a lot of comments that like, “you are complicit in a genocide by taking part in Eurovision” which is quite extreme, it’s very extreme, I understand where that sentiment is coming from but I think it’s not correct. It’s an incredibly complicated political situation, one that I’m not qualified to speak on. The backdrop to this is actual immense suffering, it’s a humanitarian crisis, a war and it just so happens there’s a song contest going on at the same time that I’m a part of. People are in despair and want to do something and I really respect people who…people should do what’s right for them if they wanna boycott Eurovision if they don’t feel comfortable watching that’s their choice and I respect that. Eurovision is meant to be an apolitical contest, but that’s like a fantasy.

Olly Alexander, Road To Eurovision

EBU Statement

After calls to withdraw and boycott grew for artists, along with offensive comments directed to the artists competing, the EBU released the following statement:

Eric Saade Semi-Final Performance

Eric Saade was one of three former Eurovision artists asked to open the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final 1, which took place on 7th May 2024. Eric represented Sweden in 2011 with ‘Popular’, and has since attempted to represent them on two more occasions – most recently in 2021. He has been heavily involved in calling on the EBU to disqualify Israel from the Eurovision Song Contest and is of Palestinian heritage, choosing to wear a Keffiyeh on his wrist during his performance. The EBU criticised him for this, saying they “regret” his choice and that he had “compromised the non-political nature of the event”. They also skipped uploading his opening performance on their official social media channels. Eric Saade responded, saying:

I got that shawl from my father as a little boy, to never forget where the family comes from. I didn’t know then that it would one day be called a ‘political symbol’. It’s like calling the Dala horse a political symbol. In my eyes, that’s just racism. I just wanted to be inclusive and wear something authentic to me – but the EBU seems to find my ethnicity controversial. It says nothing about me, but everything about them. I say as this year’s ESC slogan: United by music.

He then uploaded his performance to his Instagram account, adding in the caption “I thought that me showing who I am would be the best thing I could do to be inclusive in this dark world. To actually “unite us by music”. The EBU showed us that their slogan wasn’t genuine by their comments afterwards – which resulted in dividing us instead of uniting us”.

Credit: Jimmy Wixtröm

Anti-Booing Technology

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, they were heavily and audibly booed during the Copenhagen contest, both during the performance and the voting. To stop this from happening again on TV, the EBU introduced technology in 2015 to stop booing coming across live on the TV feed, overlaying it with cheers instead. This meant Polina Gagarina, who represented Russia in Vienna, appeared to receive cheers to viewers at home. In the arena it was a different story, with boos ringing out from the audience.

Viewers alleged that this technology had been used once again in 2024 for Israel. Videos from the rehearsals showed ‘Hurricane’ receiving loud booing before, during and after the song, which broke through on TV feeds alongside evidence of clear cheering. The EBU states in their FAQs on Israel’s participation that they advocate for freedom of speech and people’s right to express their views.

Credit: EBU

Huffington Post contacted the EBU & SVT for comment on the use of anti-booing technology in 2024:

Just like in all major TV productions with an audience, SVT work on the broadcast sound to even out the levels for TV viewers. This is solely to achieve as balanced a sound mix as possible for the audience; and SVT do not censor sound from the arena audience. The same principle applies to all competing performances and opening and interval acts.

The EBU and SVT encourage all audiences to attend in the spirit of the Contest, embracing its values of inclusivity, celebrating diversity and being United By Music.

The Netherlands Disqualified

On Friday, May 10th 2024, despite appearing at the flag parade, confusion was caused when Joost Klein – representing The Netherlands with ‘Europapa’ – was absent from his rehearsal, with the running order skipping his performance in position #5, going straight from Luxembourg to Israel despite his staging initially being put onto the stage. This confusion lasted hours before SVT reported that a complaint had been made regarding an altercation he had been in with a camerawoman. It was announced he would not perform at the jury show, with his semi-final performance shown instead as the EBU investigated the incident. This angered attendees of the jury show, who heavily booed the announcement of The Netherlands’ absence. Later that evening it was reported Swedish Police had been called in to aid with the investigation. It was not confirmed until the afternoon of May 12th by the EBU that The Netherlands had been disqualified from the Grand Final due to the EBU’s “zero-tolerance policy towards the inappropriate behaviour at our event and are committed to providing a safe and secure working environment for all staff at the contest” and that “Joost Klein’s behaviour towards a team member is deemed in breach of the rules”. Further anger erupted specifically with the Dutch fans and broadcaster AVROTROS, who called the disqualification “disproportionate”. They later issued the below statement. After this, the EBU released a statement (which has been updated) on the altercation, saying that “the version of events released in some public comments and on social media does not correspond with the statements shared with us and the Swedish Police by staff and witnesses. However, the matter is now subject to legal proceedings and there is unfortunately nothing further we can add at this stage”. Joost returned to The Netherlands on May 12th, as legal proceedings continue.

Serbian Head Of Entertainment at RTS Olivera Kovačević has revealed they plan to write to the EBU to demand an explanation over why Joost was disqualified, believing the decision was “extreme”.

On the 14th of May, AVROTROS revealed they had complained to the EBU on May 10th over the backstage atmosphere, which they deemed to be “unpleasant” “tense” and at points “unsafe”. They also criticised the EBU’s alleged use of anti-booing technology.

KAN, Their Conduct & the EBU’s Response

During Eurovision Week, delegations from other countries were being recorded and photographed without their consent or against their wishes by the Israeli delegation and a journalist from KAN. The first instance of this was reported the day before Semi-Final 2 rehearsals regarding Joost Klein, where one of the ‘Hurricane’ songwriters posted a video to her Instagram account showing him and his team members in the background of a selfie of Israel’s dancers. In this, she stated Joost had asked for his photo not to be taken, saying ‘The Dutch representative doesn’t like us and asked not to take his picture”. After qualifying for the final, Eden Golan was asked if she thought her participation had risked and endangered the safety of those taking part and the public by being at the event. She was affirmed by the press conference host that she didn’t have to answer the question, at which point Joost asked “Why not?”, which was then echoed by other members of the press. During his questioning at the press conference, he was asked if he thinks ‘Europapa’ can unite us all by music, and he responded by saying “I think that’s a good question for the EBU”. Joost had also sat with the Dutch flag over his head, which was again posted to the songwriter’s Instagram, as was a second story – a re-upload of a TikTok about Joost – and a repost of the video he had requested not to be recorded two days earlier. On Friday May 10th, after Joost had been barred from performing at the rehearsal, a KAN journalist followed him backstage and was told to stop filming by the Dutch delegation.

Ireland’s Bambie Thug was also subject to being photographed and posted to Israel’s stylist’s account. The video of Greek participant Marina Satti pretending to fall asleep during Israel’s press conference was also uploaded to the songwriter’s story .

Some of the press had also reportedly been taking photos of others and posting them online, leading to Spanish broadcaster RTVE requesting that EBU respect the freedom of the press.

Withdrawal Of Commentators

Nikkie De Jager, host of Eurovision 2021, was scheduled to present the jury points of The Netherlands in the final. After appearing at the family show soon after the Dutch disqualification, she and AVROTROS later took the decision not to appear and not select another spokesperson leaving the job down to Martin Österdahl.

Without giving a reason, Käärija, who had been selected as Finland’s jury spokesperson, announced later that day he would no longer be presenting the points in the final.

Alessandra was due to give Norway’s jury points but posted to Instagram on the day of the final in protest to Israel’s participation in the contest, calling the slogan “United By Music” empty words.

RAI Televote Leak

At the end of Semi Final 2, Italian broadcaster RAI showed their televote percentages of the competing countries in that Semi.

This is against the rules of the contest, with RAI saying a day later it was a “technical problem” and has apologised to the EBU. They affirmed that the votes that were published were “incomplete”.

Bambie Thug

Bambie Thug had the words “Ceasefire” and “Free Palestine” written on their face and body in Ogham script, which the EBU told them an hour before showtime had to be removed, or they wouldn’t be allowed on stage. They did as the EBU wished. However, the words were re-applied for Bambie’s Grand Final performance.

Bambie, Marina Satti and Switzerland’s Nemo were absent from the flag parade during the family show. Bambie posted their first statement on Instagram stating they had made the EBU aware of an urgent situation before this show took place:

There was a situation while we were waiting to go to stage for the flag parade rehearsal which I felt needed urgent attention from the EBU – the EBU have taken this matter seriously and we have been in discussion about what action needs to be taken. This means I have missed my dress rehearsal – I am so sorry to the fans that have come to see me. I hope to see you on the stage tonight.

RTÉ later reported that this situation revolved around Israel’s broadcaster KAN, and their commentator’s assessment of them, including that Bambie “liked to speak negatively about Israel”.

After all this happened, EBU Director General Noel Curran stated that Israel had not broken any rules.

Following this, merely hours before the Grand Final, Bambie posted to their Instagram story calling the EBU out for contradicting communication they had received:

Over the last few days I have raised multiple complaints to the EBU regarding instances I have experienced this week. Earlier today they confirmed to my delegation in front of others that KAN’s commentator had broken the rules of conduct during Eurovision Semi Final 1.

I have been patiently waiting to hear what action is set to be taken by the EBU following this rule break. I have since seen a statement by EBU Director General Noel Curran which contradicts this earlier confirmation. I am still waiting for official update from the EBU.

Complaints & Withdrawal Concerns

Norwegian outlet VG stated Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal had been in crisis meetings with the EBU on the night of the jury show over potential withdrawal.

On May 13th, Magnus Børmark from Norway’s Gåte spoke to Aftenposten – revealing they had also been in crisis talks to withdraw from the contest.

Withdrawing was on the block until the last second. We eventually had constructive talks with the EBU. Things were just good enough for it to be carried out,

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 BBC have revealed in an article that Italy’s Angelina Mango had also complained about the atmosphere backstage.

Slimane’s Speech

France’s singer Slimane stopped his performance at the family show to do a speech in which he called for peace, saying “we need to be United By Music yes, but with love, for peace”. He then left the stage, instead of carrying on with his song. The EBU then said he was “saving his voice” and would perform as normal in the live final, which he did.

RTP Complaint Over Iolanda’s Delayed Performance

The Eurovision accounts delayed uploads of Iolanda’s performance in the Grand Final. When questioned by broadcaster RTP, the EBU responded that it was a technical problem before reporting that it was down to her having “Pro-Palestinian motifs on her nails”. RTP asked the EBU “What that has to do with anything?” before the video of Iolanda’s Grand Final performance was then uploaded. RTP will be meeting on the 14th of May with the EBU to discuss the event, with the CA of RTP stating to the broadcaster:

On Tuesday, in Lisbon, we will have a meeting to analyse, with the people who have been in Malmö, the facts that we think should be corrected and debated at Eurovision level, precisely to prevent them from repeating themselves again.

I want to remind you that Portugal, in the jury vote, was always between fourth and seventh place, and then when we arrived at the public vote, unexpectedly Israel, which was in the last places, in the second half of the table, it went to first place, with a truly extraordinary vote.

For an event that is not political, it is obvious that we have to reflect on this vote, which was a political vote of people who support Israel and who took Israel to this level of classification, relegating Portugal to tenth place.


Alyona Alyona’s Comments

After returning to Ukraine, Alyona Alyona told the media about the heavy pressure faced by artists and that they had been checked for any political messages. She also spoke about how faces and nails were inspected and how the artists worried about being disqualified for making any statements.

In a now-deleted post, one of Australia’s team for 2024 spoke on the artists being patted down in case they were hiding anything political.

Fred, in the dark of the stage, after they patted us down to see if we were hiding flags, signs or had changed our costume, managed to use his last bit of paint to make one last edition [a watermelon] in the centre of his chest.

Brendan [Member of Australia’s 2024 team]

Belgium’s artist Mustii had also written “peace” onto his arm during Semi Final 2.

Luna on The Israeli Delegation

During her interview with Pomponik, Poland’s Luna alleged that the Israeli Delegation had been harassing artists backstage.

Bambie’s Reaction Post Show

In one of their first interviews after Eurovision concluded, Bambie said the following:

Nemo winning, I am so proud that all of us are in the top 10 that have been fighting for this s-t being the scenes because it has been so hard and it has been so horrible for us. I’m so proud of us and I just want to say WE are what Eurovision is, the EBU is not what Eurovision is. F-k the EBU. The thing that makes this is the contestants, the community behind it, the love and the power and the support of all of us is what is making change and the world has spoken. The queers are coming. Non-binaries for the f-g win.

Silvester Belt’s Reaction Post Show

Lithuania’s Silvester Belt was scheduled to perform after Israel in the final. In all rehearsals and live performances at the contest, Eden had been heavily booed by the audience – to the point the Israeli delegation had been standing backstage and booing her rehearsals to prepare her for the crowd’s response to Israel’s participation in this year’s contest. After the show, Silvester posted the following to his X account, calling the experience “traumatic” and wished he hadn’t qualified.

Nemo’s Press Conference

During Nemo’s press conference, they were asked about an earlier incident before the show in which the non-binary flag had been removed from fans outside the venue. Nemo answered, stating they had to smuggle their flag into the flag parade:

That is unbelievable – I had to smuggle my flag in because Eurovision said no, and I did it anyway so I hope some other people did that too but come on! This is clearly a double standards and I broke the code and I broke the trophy, maybe the trophy can be fixed – maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing too every now and then.

The EBU’s rules on flags only covered the rainbow LGBTQ+ flag and flags of participating countries. There has also been an issue regarding the EU flag not being allowed into Malmö Arena, sparking the European Commission’s vice-president saying she is “seeking clarification and explanation”. The EBU released a statement covering both of these raised issues:

Due to heightened geopolitical tensions, the flag policy was more rigorously enforced by security at this year’s event. We will look again at the flag policy for 2025 in conjunction with our new host broadcaster.

EBU // Sarah Louise Bennett

Later in the conference, Nemo was asked whether they think that Eurovision needed any changes in 2025:

I don’t think that’s necessarily in my power but I think what is in our power as artists & contestants this year is to continuously have this conversation about what Eurovision should be and we really need that. I hope so much that these coming weeks can be a ground for that where we can revalue what Eurovision stands for and what it should be.

They also spoke about their experience at Eurovision 2024, saying:

I have to say this whole experience was really intense and not just pleasant all the way. There were a lot of things that didn’t seem like they were all about love and unity and that made me really sad. At the same time there was so much love here as well, there was so much coming together and there were so many different cultures meeting and people that are just full of positivity, love for music and that really give me hope and I know these people exist and they exist in the world but we need to work to create such an environment and we need to ask ourselves what is such an environment and what do we wanna stand for and I really hope that Eurovision continues and can continue to stand for peace love in the future and I think that needs a lot of work still.

The EBU Responds

The EBU responded on May 13th 2024 after growing backlash online and from the artists who took part in the 2024 edition. In a statement to Irish media, they reported the following:

We regret that some delegations at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö didn’t respect the spirit of the rules and the competition both onsite and during their broadcasts,

We spoke to a number of delegations during the event regarding various issues that were brought to our attention.

The EBU’s governing bodies will, together with the heads of delegations, review the events surrounding the ESC in Malmö to move forward in a positive way and to ensure the values of the event are respected by everyone.

It’s Not Just 2024

Mae Muller, who represented the United Kingdom in 2023, came forward on X on May 11th 2024 in response to a fan asking why she had found it difficult to engage with the contest. Mae responded, saying

The pressure is just too much. It’s a shame because I love performing and I love music but the fans were the only thing that made it enjoyable. More needs to be done to protect the artists mental health because it’s actually not normal what they go through.

After announcing a tour to promote her album ‘Sorry, I’m Late’, that same tour was cancelled weeks later. In January, she announced on TikTok she had become an independent artist after leaving her record label and that despite Eurovision doing good for her profile, she wanted to go back to being authentic with her music. Mae received heavy backlash from the media for her political stance and past tweets and comments she made regarding the UK Government and their policies. You can read more about this here.

In 2015, Bianca Nicholas – one half of Electro Velvet – received overwhelming backlash during her time in the contest. In November that year, she posted a statement on her Facebook page, revealing the impact Eurovision had on her. Bianca stated that she feels as though she’ll go down in history as a ‘joke’ and won’t ever have the same amount of media attention to change this perspective, and wasn’t prepared for the trolling she received. Bianca also revealed that she hadn’t sung a lot since the contest and found gigging difficult, saying she felt ashamed even singing in her own company.

What I didn’t prepare for was the cruelty of Twitter trolls, the media, and the heartbreak of going down in history as, well – a person who was just bit of a joke, really. I thought it was a fun song, I still like it – and had no idea how seriously it would be taken by some.

I always thought having CF and being a singer I was here to make a difference, help people “hold on to their dreams” and all that fairytale malarkey. But maybe that was a bit egotistical, and I’m just a normal person – or as the press would have me believe, something even lower than that.

So what now, well, I’ve not done much singing at all since May, apart a couple of gigs I’d already committed too, which I found very difficult. Lack of singing means lack of vocal range, a drop lung function, then general health, and overall mood. I struggle to sing in my own company at the moment without feeling stupid or ashamed of myself. It’s all a bit of a vicious circle really.

All I can do now is focus on learning how to enjoy singing for me again. Although I’ll never have that amount of media attention again to change how I’ll go down in history, I can change how I see myself, and try my best to hold my head high no matter what people think.

Benjamin Ingrosso was an interval act at Eurovision 2024, and had represented Sweden with ‘Dance You Off’ back in 2018. In Malmö, he spoke to the Eurotrip Podcast about his experience and the now infamous “21 points” moment:

Trust me I watch Twitter so I see what everyone writes. I saw the memes and I, like, if that would have happened today I would’ve taken it more chill and more fun. But I was 21 years old and I took it very hard and I felt that I embarrassed myself as a face of Sweden. I did nothing that summer […] I cancelled all the gigs and everything I was really burned out.

Kristian Kostov was just 17 when he took part for Bulgaria in Eurovision 2017. He has since spoken about what he went through during the contest.

The hardest thing for me was losing… it felt like it was part of a movie and something I’ve been working for my whole life. I felt like this was the moment when I achieve what I actually wanted, and I didn’t. It was like a good slap to the face for me and a reminder that this is real life. It took me some time to actually appreciate second place.

After Eurovision, I had this one moment in time where it all kind of went down a little bit and I felt so… not even vulnerable but like nothing had a meaning to it, I felt like I should stop doing music at one point even. That was the worst period of time for me, I believe in 2018.

On May 11th 2017, he was cleared to perform in the contest by Ukrainian border force after the Russian Foreign Ministry’s office in Rostov-On-Don posted that he had performed in Crimea in 2014, which, as the contest was hosted in Kyiv, could have seen him be disqualified. Ukrainian legislation regarding those who had visited the annexed Crimea without permission came into force 4 months after Kristian had performed there, and as he was a minor at the time, he was free to continue in the contest.

Joan Franka represented The Netherlands in 2012 with ‘You & Me’ – her experience was so bad she only came forward last April after changing her name so she could continue releasing music. In the Dutch TV show Better Than Ever, she described what she went through – specifically at the hands of her management, who signed her up for the national final without her knowledge. She spoke about how she had developed an eating disorder after comments about her weight from her manager, and the team around her would not allow her family to travel to Baku with the rest of the delegation. She also felt forced into wearing the Native American Headdress on stage, and after the show, her manager told her she had “ruined everything”. For the rest of the night, Joan was left alone and her team wouldn’t speak to her. She had to spend €30,000 to get out of her contract with them in 2014 and changed her name to Luba the Baroness so she could release music. In 2012, The Netherlands had failed to qualify consistently since the semi-finals were introduced giving the contest a poor reputation and – as we’ve seen from other countries – the stance that doing the show would kill your career, making Joan feel as though her name was tainted when returning from Baku.

S10 (The Netherlands 2022) has revealed she didn’t have a pleasant experience at the contest in Turin, saying boundaries had been crossed backstage and that the constant filming of artists at the show was “intense”.

These are just a few stories from artists who have come forward about what they faced and felt during Eurovision and the aftermath of the contest, and tied with the experiences of those who took part in 2024, we have to wonder where the duty of care lies, and why artists are not being protected by the EBU or their delegations.

What Can Change?

In this year’s Media Handbook, everyone at the event had access to an anonymous phone line to contact should they need to speak to someone about their mental health. Whilst this is a great step to keeping the artists and delegations’ mental health on track, the pressure of the event doesn’t just appear and disappear after their time in the host city. For some – like Slimane for example – their journey begins months in advance (Slimane was announced for the contest in November 2024), and with the online landscape being so crowded with opinions, national outlets critiquing your song or looking to catch you out paired with the entire pre-party season and, for some, national finals, you have to ponder whether these artists are being supported to the full capacity before and after the event. Eurovision puts artists on such a huge platform that scrutiny is to be expected – but in a year like 2024, it appears that many felt the overwhelming pressure of being at the event and not having their needs taken care of during their time there. The Malmö event had such a highly intense backstage culture that caused artists and delegations to be harassed and targeted due to the EBU’s lack of response to immediate reports.

Their disqualification of Joost Klein was by their rules and arguments the right thing to do – but you have to ask if there was a hint of double standards. If a delegation is allowed to allegedly follow others around with cameras without their consent or permission – which had been mentioned to the EBU – where were the consequences for said delegation? And what does the “zero-tolerance” policy around inappropriate behaviour extend to, if the EBU will simply allow this apparent behaviour to continue? Will it be allowed to fly under the radar in future years? Whatever side of the argument you fall on when it comes to Joost’s disqualification, the reasons given by the EBU at the time regarding their policies seemed to those on the outside to cover both his conflict and that of the mentioned specific broadcaster and delegation also, though one was disqualified on the day of the final whilst the other was allowed to compete.

Moving into 2025, it’s undeniable that things have to change for Eurovision so future competitors won’t enter an environment like that of Malmö 2024. The reputation of the contest isn’t just in ruins with the media and general public, but it’s destroyed for its most loyal of followers who genuinely care about the contest and want to be able to support something that represents what it once stood for – peace, unity, love and respect. Whether that includes changes at the EBU, introduction of better mental health support across delegations and at the event itself or changes to how Eurovision is carried out it’s clear things cannot continue in their current form for the wellbeing and safety of every single person at the contest, artist, delegation, volunteer or employee. We can only hope the EBU move forward, in whatever way possible, to make Eurovision 2025 a better event for all.

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