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Dutch Eurovision contestant disqualified over alleged ‘intimidation’

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Dutch Eurovision contestant Joost Klein has been disqualified from the song competition show before its Grand Final on Saturday.

The Netherlands singer was sent home after a female member of the production crew made an allegation of intimidation to Swedish police 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,” Eurovision organizers European Broadcasting Union said in a statement issued early on Saturday. “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.”

The event organizers added, “We maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior 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 behavior towards a team member is deemed in breach of Contest rules.”

Joost Klein representing Netherlands during the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Getty


Dutch broadcaster Avrotros responded to Joost’s disqualification in a statement on social media, expressing shock and disappointment over the decision and sharing its side of the story.

“An incident occurred after last Thursday’s performance,” the statement began. “Against clearly made agreements, Joost was filmed when he had just gotten off stage and had to rush to the greenroom. At that moment, Joost repeatedly indicated that he did not want to be filmed. This wasn’t respected. This led to a threatening movement from Joost towards the camera. Joost did not touch the camera woman. This incident was reported, followed by an investigation by the EBU and police. Yesterday and today we consulted extensively with the EBU and proposed several solutions. Nevertheless, the EBU has still decided to disqualify Joost Klein.”

The statement continued, “Avrotros finds the penalty very heavy and disproportionate. We stand for good manners — let there be no misunderstanding about that — but in our view, an exclusion order is not proportional to this incident. We are very disappointed and upset for the millions of fans who were so excited for tonight. What Joost brought to the Netherlands and Europe shouldn’t have ended this way.”

Joost was previously barred from rehearsals on Friday night while the BCU investigated an unspecified “backstage incident” involving Klein, reported the BBC. The juries who watch these rehearsals to determine scores for the finale were shown a taped performance of Klein from earlier in the week in his absence. The EBU did not immediately respond to Entertainment Weekly‘s request for comment.

Klein’s disqualification from the competition is noteworthy because, as the BBC reports, his song “Europapa” — which is dedicated to his parents, both of whom died when Klein was young — was “considered one of the front-runners at this year’s contest.”

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Onlookers first noticed something was amiss during the first dress rehearsal at Malmö Arena in Sweden on Friday. The singer’s props were set up on stage when someone with the production instructed them to be removed. Then his performance was skipped over, and Israel’s entrant Eden Golan took the stage.

The EBU issued a statement half an hour before the second dress rehearsal explaining Klein’s absence in the wake of an “ongoing” investigation, according to reports.

“While the investigation continues the EBU has decided that Joost Klein will not perform during Dress Rehearsal 2 of the competition, which is voted on by juries in the 37 participating countries,” an EBU statement read. “His performance from Semi Final 2 will be used instead.”

The event has been marked by protests, the AP reported, as pro-Palestinian demonstrators have stood against Israel’s participation. A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 people marched through the streets of Malmo on Thursday and called for a boycott of the competition.

The Eurovision Grand Final will now proceed with 25 participating songs. The event is set to begin Saturday at 9 p.m. CEST. The finale begins airing at 3 p.m. EST in the United States and Canada. The Eurovision website includes a list of broadcasters. In the U.S., Peacock will stream the event.

This story has been updated to reflect Klein’s disqualification from Eurovision.

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