Joost Klein: Dutch participant disqualified from Eurovision Song Contest

  • By Mark Savage
  • Music Correspondent, BBC News

Dutch artist Joost Klein has been excluded from the Eurovision Song Contest after a backstage incident.

A female member of the production team made allegations of intimidation to the Swedish police.

The Netherlands Song Festival said Klein “repeatedly indicated” that he did not want to be filmed and that he “did not touch the camerawoman.”

Meanwhile, Ireland’s contestant Bambie Thug missed her dress rehearsal but was hoping to be on stage at the show.

In her Instagram Story, Bambie Thug explained that there was a “situation” before the flag parade rehearsal “that I felt required urgent attention from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).”

Bambie Thug did not mention Klein’s exclusion and there is no indication that the two incidents are related.

Separately, Norwegian media reported that their jury’s spokeswoman, Allesandra Mele, had withdrawn, citing the “tense situation” in Malmö. Last year, representing Norway, she took fourth place with the song “King of Queens”.

Dutch broadcaster Avrtotros described Klein’s disqualification as “disproportionate”.

In a statement on social media, the company said it was “shocked by the decision” and would “come back to this later.”

Contest organizers said it was “inappropriate” for Klein to participate “while the legal process is ongoing.”

The Dutch song festival, which sends acts to the Eurovision Song Contest, said: “Contrary to clear agreements made, Joost was filmed coming off the stage and having to rush to the greenroom. At that moment, Joost repeatedly indicated that he did not do this. “I want to be filmed. That was not respected.

“This led to a threatening movement from Joost towards the camera. Joost didn’t touch the camerawoman.”

The statement said the panel had consulted “extensively” with the EBU and “proposed several solutions” but had still decided to disqualify Klein.

image source, Arvotros / Instagram

Klein was one of the favorites for this year’s competition with his song “Europapa”.

It was a pro-European techno anthem dedicated to his father, whom he lost to cancer when he was 12 years old.

The now 26-year-old singer had promised his father that he would one day make it to the Eurovision stage.

News of his suspension broke on Friday afternoon during the first dress rehearsal for Saturday’s televised grand final.

Klein’s props were being set up on the stage at the Malmö Arena when a production manager ordered them to be removed.

His song was then skipped without explanation and Israeli contestant Eden Golan, who was next in the starting order, took his place.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the event, later issued a statement saying it was investigating “an incident reported to us involving the Dutch artist.”

‘Zero tolerance’

On Saturday, Swedish police confirmed that a man had been reported for “unlawful threats” at the Malmö Arena after Thursday’s semi-final.

“The police have taken all necessary investigative measures and interviewed the suspect, the complainant and the witnesses,” said a spokesman.

“The investigation has been completed by the police… and the case will now be referred to the public prosecutor’s office within a few weeks.”

The EBU then confirmed that Klein would not take part in Saturday’s grand final.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior at our event and are committed to providing a safe working environment for all competition staff,” they said.

“Against this background, Joost Klein’s behavior towards a team member is considered a violation of the competition rules.”

Although contestants have been disqualified from the Eurovision Song Contest in the past, no one has ever lost their place so close to the final.

More often, songs are rejected in the selection phase. In 2021, the Belarusian entry was banned after refusing to change texts that the competition deemed political in nature; In 2016, Romania was excluded from participation due to outstanding debts to the EBU.

image description, International media gathered outside Klein’s hotel in Malmö, Sweden

Swedish and Dutch news agencies said the incident involved Klein and a member of the television production team.

Organizers stressed that “contrary to some media reports and speculation on social media, no other artist or delegation member was involved in this incident.”

Early reports suggested that there was hostility between Klein and the Israeli candidate as feelings ran high over the Israel-Gaza war.

At a Eurovision press conference on Thursday, Golan was asked if she had “ever thought that by her presence she was posing a risk and danger to other participants and the public?”

When the Israeli singer was told by the moderator that she didn’t have to answer the question, Klein chimed in: “Why not?”

Golan replied: “I think we are all here for one reason and one reason only and the EBU is taking all the security precautions to make this a safe and united place for everyone and that is why I think it is for everyone is safe, and that’s what we would do. “I won’t be here (if not).”

When Klein was previously asked if his song could live up to the Eurovision slogan and unite people through music, he replied: “I think that’s a good question for the EBU.”

image description, Klein (left) appeared at a press conference with Israeli candidate Eden Golan (second from right) on Thursday evening.

The grand finale on Saturday will now take place with 25 acts instead of the planned 26.

The event starts at 9:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. BST) and is expected to end at midnight (11:00 p.m. BST).

Dutch spectators are still allowed to vote and the result of the Dutch jury (which was decided at the second dress rehearsal on Friday) is still valid.

It would not have been possible to replace Klein with another act, partly because of the difficulty of adding new elements to the production at the last minute.

Organizers also would not be willing to promote the eliminated contestant to 11th place in Thursday’s semifinals because that would violate rules on disclosing the results of the public vote.