Dutch Eurovision entry not rehearsing 'until further notice' over 'incident'

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The Netherlands' Eurovision entry Joost Klein is under investigation by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) due to an unexplained "incident" - and will not be rehearsing again until "further notice".

The Dutch singer, 26, missed his slot in the show's penultimate dress rehearsal in Malmo, Sweden, on Friday, where he had been due to perform his track Europapa in fifth place, ahead of Israel's Eden Golan, 20, with her song Hurricane.

It is not yet clear if Klein will be performing in the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final on Saturday.

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Israel performs at Eurovision semi-final

The EBU said in a statement: "We are currently investigating an incident that was reported to us involving the Dutch artist. He will not be rehearsing until further notice.

"We have no further comment at this time and will update in due course."

Klein had been part of the flag parade at the start of the rehearsal, and walked around the stage in full costume, but then failed to arrive on stage for his performance around 30 minutes later.

He had been vocal in a news conference on Thursday night, which brought together the 10 acts from the second semi-final selected for the final, including Israel and the Netherlands.

Some 26 countries, including UK entry Olly Alexander, 33, with his track Dizzy, and Ireland's Bambie Thug, 31, with the song Doomsday Blue, are due to battle it out for the coveted Eurovision glass trophy on Saturday.

A clip of Klein's offering - happy-hardcore inspired Europapa - was played out in the recap clips of all 26 songs throughout the rehearsal show, but with a clip of a previous Klein rehearsal.

The UK's Olly Alexander performs during the semi-final. Pic: Reuters

Image: UK entry Olly Alexander. Pic: Reuters

Ireland's Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters

Image: Ireland's Bambie Thug. Pic: Reuters

The track, which is one of the most memorable of the show and was described by one critic as "so bad" it will "put you off music forever", is among the current favourites to win.

Towards the end of the news conference, Golan was asked was asked by Polish radio outlet Newsletter whether she thought she was causing a security risk for other participants by attending the event.

The moderator of the conference, Swedish presenter Jovan Radomir, told Golan she did not have to answer the question if she did not want to.

Klein shouted out loudly: "Why not?"

 AP

Image: Klein at a news conference on Thursday. Pic: AP

Golan responded to the question, saying: "I think we're all here for one reason, and one reason only. And the EBU is taking all safety precautions to make this a safe and united place for everyone. And so, I think it's safe for everyone or we wouldn't be here."

Her response was met with a round of applause.

Earlier in the session Klein, who was asked by an audience member, "Do you think that your song can unite us all by music?"

He swiftly replied: "That's a good question for the EBU."

Golan's song Hurricane was reworked from a previous track called October Rain, which was thought to reference the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

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Why are there protests at Eurovision?

At the start of the news conference, Klein had also draped what appeared to be a Dutch flag around his head completely, sitting like that for a short while before the questions began.

Sky News has emailed Klein's representatives for comment on his absence in the dress rehearsal.

There are more pro-Palestinian protests planned in Malmo to coincide with the Eurovision grand final, amid the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

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Eurovision fans on Israel

Tight security in Malmo amid protests

Security is high in the host city, with extra police being drafted in from neighbouring Denmark and Norway.

Over the last few months there have been demonstrations and calls for acts to boycott the show, after the EBU refused to remove Israel from the competition, insisting it had broken no broadcasting rules.

During an earlier rehearsal on Wednesday, Golan was met with some boos and cries of "Free Palestine," and an audience member appeared to have a Palestinian flag removed from them in the auditorium.

On Friday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called protests against Israel's participation in Eurovision "wrong," adding "scenes we've seen here [in Malmo] have been outrageous".

A Pro-Palestinian demonstration ahead of the second semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo

Image: A Pro-Palestinian demonstration took place in Malmo on Thursday

Police estimated 10,000 and 12,000 people took part in a march on Thursday which began in Stortorget square near Malmo's 16th-century town hall before moving through the city for a rally in a park several miles from the Eurovision venue, the Malmo Arena.

During the march - which included families with young children, and people with dogs and bicycles - smoke canisters in the colours of the Palestinian flag were set off, with some protesters carrying signs displaying images of Gaza civilians who have been injured amid the Hamas-Israel conflict.

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There was also a banner done in the style of Eurovision with the word "genocide" on it - an accusation vigorously denied by Israel amid its battle with Hamas.

Among those in the crowd was Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Meanwhile, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent his support to Golan, telling her in a video message: "When they boo you, we are cheering you."

:: Sky News will be in Malmo with updates, a live blog, and all the biggest news from the final as it happens on Saturday.

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