Dutch broadcaster furious, fans bemused after Netherlands’ Joost Klein is booted from Eurovision – Metro US

Dutch broadcaster furious, fans bemused after Netherlands’ Joost Klein is booted from Eurovision

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest
FILE – Joost Klein of Netherlands arrives on stage for the introducing of the artists at the dress rehearsal for the final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, Friday, May 10, 2024. Hours before the final, Dutch contestant Joost Klein was dramatically booted out by organizers over a backstage incident. He had failed to perform at two dress rehearsals on Friday, and contest organizer the European Broadcasting Union said it was investigating an “incident.” (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

MALMO, Sweden (AP) — A Dutch public broadcaster reacted angrily after the Netherlands’ contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest was dramatically expelled from the competition hours before Saturday’s final over a backstage altercation that is being investigated by police.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision, said that Swedish police were investigating “a complaint made by a female member of the production crew” about Joost Klein, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to participate while the legal process was underway.

Klein had failed to perform at two dress rehearsals on Friday in the Swedish city of Malmo, and organizers had said they were investigating an “incident.” Though rumors had been flying that the incident was connected to Israel’s delegation, organizers said it “did not involve any other performer or delegation member.”

The EBU said that Klein won’t receive any points from national juries or from Eurovision viewers, who help pick the winner, and the Netherlands won’t appear on the contest scoreboard. Dutch viewers will still be able to vote in the contest, since viewers in Eurovision member countries aren’t allowed to vote for their own nation’s act.

It was unclear whether Klein was still in Malmo on Saturday.

Such a last-minute disqualification is unprecedented in the 68-year history of Eurovision, although countries have boycotted the event and in some cases been expelled — including Russia, kicked out after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS, one of dozens of public broadcasters that collectively fund and broadcast the contest, said it was “shocked by the decision.”

Later it issued a statement saying that as Klein came offstage after Thursday’s semifinal he was filmed without his consent and in turn made a “threatening movement” toward the camera.

The broadcaster said Klein did not touch the camera or the camerawoman, and called his expulsion a “very heavy and disproportionate” punishment.

“We are very disappointed and upset for the millions of fans who were so excited for tonight,” it said. “What Joost brought to the Netherlands and Europe shouldn’t have ended this way.”

The 26-year-old Dutch singer and rapper had been a bookies’ favorite, as well as a fan favorite, with his song “Europapa,” an upbeat Euro-techno ode to the continent’s diversity that is also a tribute to Klein’s parents, who died when he was a child.

Dave Adams, a British fan dressed as Klein in a blue suit with pointy shoulder pads, said he was a “bit gutted” by the disqualification.

“It’s just a bit depressing isn’t it?” he said. “(We’ll) see how it goes today. I’m sure there’ll be a good winner — hopefully anyway.”

The competition that pits nations against one another for pop music glory has already been marked by division over the inclusion of Israel. It has attracted large protests from Palestinians and their supporters, who say Israel should be excluded because of its conduct of the war in Gaza.

This story has been corrected to show that the spelling of the Dutch broadcaster is AVROTROS, not AVROTOS.

Associated Press writers Kwiyeon Ha and Hilary Fox in Malmo contributed to this story.