Eurovision Song Contest Vows to Remain ‘Non-Political’ After Messy 2024 Protests

eurovision song contest vows to remain non-political after protests in 2024
  • Save

eurovision song contest vows to remain non-political after protests in 2024
  • Save
Photo Credit: Eurovision

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest vow to remain ‘non-political’ following messy 2024 protests as it approaches its 70th anniversary.

Following the conclusion of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), organizers of the event have introduced a new director role, beginning with next year’s competition. Additionally, following an independent report into this year’s competition, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), who organizes the event, has been recommended to appoint a welfare producer to “ensure contestants’ wellbeing.”

“We are committed to ensuring that the Eurovision Song Contest continues to go from strength to strength and that all stakeholders, not least participating broadcasters and the millions who enjoy the event, can be reassured of our best intentions to maintain the success of this event that brings so much joy to millions around the world,” reads a statement from the EBU.

The EBU revealed back in May they would be appointing an independent industry expert to review this year’s contest, following several notable controversies. Namely, the expulsion of Netherlands entry Joost Klein the morning of the Grand Finale for allegedly threatening a female crew member, and the reported bullying of Israeli entry Eden Golan by fellow contestants.

To prepare the report, industry expert Pernille Gaardbo spoke to 50-plus people to prepare the recommendation, including Eurovision stakeholders such as the heads of delegations from each country. Gaardbo also spoke to members of the contest’s governing board and the core EBU/ESC team to assess what could be done differently next year, when the song contest turns 69.

The new ESC director, who has not yet been appointed, will report to the EBU’s deputy director general and media director Jean Philip De Tender, as well as oversee the show’s executive supervisor Martin Österdahl. Further, the new director will oversee another new role, the head of ESC brand and commercial, who has also not yet been appointed.

Other recommendations made in the report will now be considered by a taskforce of senior leaders across the EBU, including possibly restricting backstage access, and organizing a dedicated crisis management team.

“The EBU is a non-political organization or a union of public service media broadcasters in Europe,” said De Tender in an interview with Variety. “So what we bring is a non-political event. But clearly, because the event has become so big, you see that geopolitical tensions can have an impact on the event, that it can have an impact on the artists.”

“We welcome freedom of speech,” De Tender explains. “We have seen demonstrations in Malmö [against Israel’s participation in the contest in the face of the conflict with Palestine]. As public service media, it’s very important that people can express opinions and views. But the Eurovision Song Contest is non-political and needs to remain non-political.”

“We need to look in reviewing the rules as well as how potentially we can find new ways in mitigating the impact of these external events,” adds De Tender. “We have the Olympics, which will kick off in a couple of weeks, where exactly the same policies have been followed as what the EBU has been doing for the Eurovision Song Contest.”

The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest saw viewership of 160 million people across 37 public service media markets. Next year’s contest takes place in Switzerland — the third time that Switzerland has hosted the event — following the country’s victory in the 2024 contest with the song “The Code” by Nemo.