Rylan defends Eurovision ahead of Israel performance at second semi-final: ‘It’s all about the music’

Rylan is hosting the BBC’s coverage alongside Graham Norton and Scott Mills

Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 09 May 2024 11:22 BST
Rylan defends Eurovision ahead of Israel's performance at semi-final

Presenter Rylan has defended the Eurovision Song Contest ahead of further protests over Israel’s participation.

The country’s 2024 delegate Eden Golan is set to take to the stage this evening (Thursday 9 May), where she will perform the song “Hurricane”.

The EBU has resisted calls to ban Israel from competing amid the war in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian death toll is believed to have reached 34,000 people.

Speaking from Malmö, Sweden, Rylan, who is hosting the BBC’s coverage alongside Graham Norton and Scott Mills, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that Malmö was doing “an amazing job of hosting”.

“The climate in the world at the minute isn’t great and you know we’re not silly to not understand that there’s a lot going on in the world, but I think in the Eurovision bubble it’s a song contest, it’s all about the music and that’s what we’re here for,” the 35-year-old said.

“The city has done an amazing job, there’s a lot of demonstrations happening and people have got the right to do that and but it’s just about the music.”

Mills, 51, added: “It does feel a little different, but it’s about the music and the joy that we have every single year at Eurovision.”

Rylan (left) and Scott Mills spoke about the controversy over Israel’s participation
Rylan (left) and Scott Mills spoke about the controversy over Israel’s participation (ITV)

Thousands are expected to join a pro-Palestinian march in Malmö today, which Swedish police said would cause “disturbance to traffic”.

Golan told ITV News this week that she could not have asked “for a better year to be representing my country”.

Discussing the backlash, the EBU’s deputy director general Jean Philip De Tender said: “We do understand the concerns and the deeply held views that many people have around the war in the Middle East and I think nobody can remain untouched by the profound suffering of everybody involved in that war.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a music event which is organised and co-produced by 37 public broadcasters, so it’s not a competition between nations or governments.”

Eden Golan of Israel (Martin Meissner/AP)
Eden Golan of Israel (Martin Meissner/AP) (AP)

Eurovision contestants and attendees have been warned that the EBU reserves the right to remove any Palestinian flags and pro-Palestine symbols at the show.

Golan will face fierce competition this evening, including from Switzerland’s Nemo and their song “The Code”, widely considered to be one of the favourites to win at the grand final on Saturday 11 May.

The first semi-final took place on Tuesday, and saw other popular delegates such as Ireland’s Bambie Thug and Croatia’s Baby Lasagna sail through to the final.

The second Eurovision semi-final will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from 8pm tonight (Thursday 9 May).

Additional reporting by agencies

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