Overshadowed by protests against the participating country Israel and the disqualification of the Netherlands, the final of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) took place in Malmö. Police officers led climate activist Greta Thunberg and other demonstrators away from the square in front of the arena. The officers set up barriers.

At the first demonstrations in the evening, the police described the mood among the 6,000 to 8,000 participants as “peaceful” – but the emergency services then had to take stronger action at the much smaller gathering in front of the hall. Several people were arrested outside for causing a disturbance. There were also calls of protest against Israel’s act from the audience in the hall.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz supported Israeli participant Eden Golan shortly before the start of the final show. “Eden proudly stands up to enormous hatred and anti-Semitism,” Katz wrote on the X platform. “Today we show all the haters who is leading the way.”

Headwinds for Israel’s contribution

Israel’s participation and contribution had faced enormous headwinds in advance. Because of the war in Gaza, there were calls for Israel to be excluded from the competition. The organizer of the ESC, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), allowed Israel to take part on the grounds that it was a non-political event.

However, under pressure from the EBU, Israel had to change the text and song title of a first version – the organizers initially found it too political with the title “October Rain” because of possible references to the massacres carried out by Palestinian terrorists in Israel on October 7th. The revised song is now called “Hurricane”. Eden Golan was one of 25 acts in the final. Shortly before the start of the show, she was in second place behind Croatia in the betting odds.

When the nations arrived shortly after 9 p.m., whistles could be heard in the hall near Israel. Eden Golan (20) also had to endure numerous whistles and loud boos while performing her song “Hurricane”. Unrest briefly gripped the hall. The singer had already experienced such protest reactions from spectators at the semi-finals.

Nemo with non-binary flag

At the flag parade, the Swiss act Nemo presented the country’s flag on his back – but the non-binary flag was present in front of his chest. Nemo himself identifies as non-binary, meaning neither male nor female.

On the day of the final it was announced that the Dutch candidate Joost Klein had been excluded from the competition. According to the Dutch television station Avrotros, the background was an aggressive gesture by Klein towards a camerawoman who had filmed him after his appearance at the semi-finals on Thursday evening.

According to the information, he did not touch the woman. What exactly happened remained unclear. However, the police started an investigation into why Klein’s appearance was inappropriate, the organizers said. The Netherlands’ starting position, number 5, remained empty in the final.

Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria in the audience

Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria began by wishing everyone good luck. Croatia was considered the hot favorite for victory with the musician Baby Lasagna (28) and his song “Rim Tim Tagi Dim”.

For Germany, the singer Isaak from East Westphalia rocked the ESC stage with his song “Always on the Run”. Without making a mistake, he belted out the power ballad at starting position 3. At the beginning he warmed himself by a burning barrel. There were also a lot of fire effects, but otherwise there was no choreography.

After this performance with many flames, Germany has a bad CO2 balance and has to have a car-free Sunday the following day, joked ARD commentator Thorsten Schorn during the live broadcast. The Erste and the special interest channel One broadcast the spectacle from 9 p.m.

Abba as holograms and Conchita Wurst

Viewers can vote by phone, text message and using an app. Voting opened at 9:16 p.m. The winner will not be known until around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning – after the traditionally complex awarding of points.

Honor was paid to the ESC victory of the Swedish band Abba 50 years ago in Brighton, southern England, with Conchita Wurst (winner 10 years ago for Austria) and the Swedish ESC winners Charlotte Perrelli (1999) and Carola (1992) performing “Waterloo” together. sang. The Swedish disco band Alcazar also performed again after years after the 25 contributions and sang their classic “Crying at the Discoteque”.