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London Eurovision Song Contest Screening Party Canceled Due to Israel’s Participation: ‘It Is Not a Contest Between Governments,’ Says Organizer

UPDATE: Noel Curran, the director general of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the Eurovision Song Contest, has responded to the furor around London’s biggest screening party for the event’s grand finale being canceled over Israel’s participation.

Curran said in a statement shared with Variety: “We understand the concerns and deeply held views around the current conflict in the Middle East. We can’t fail to be moved by the profound suffering of all those caught up in this terrible war. However, the Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political music event and a competition between public service broadcasters who are members of the EBU. It is not a contest between governments. We are aware of the many voices calling to exclude Israel from this year’s competition in the same way as we excluded the Russian broadcaster in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine.”

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“Comparisons between wars and conflicts are complex and difficult and, as a non-political media organization, not ours to make.The EBU is aligned with other international organizations, including sports unions and federations and other international bodies, that have similarly maintained their inclusive stance towards Israeli participants in major competitions at this time.We remain committed to ensuring the Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event that continues to unite audiences worldwide through music,” Curran added.

PREVIOUSLY: London’s biggest screening party for the Eurovision Song Contest finals has been canceled, the venue Rio Cinema and organizer Eurovision Party London have said.

“Following discussion with the organizers of Eurovision Party London, we have collectively decided not to screen the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest this year while Israel remains in the competition,” the Rio Cinema said in a statement on X. “The Eurovision Party London has been a beloved partner of The Rio Cinema for many years, and we will continue to work with them in the future. We firmly believe that the Eurovision Song Contest has the power to bring people together across the world, and when its core values of inclusivity, equality and universality are upheld, it can be a genuine force for good. With its own slogan in mind, we hope that we can all be United By Music again soon. We will continue to organize fundraising events for the charities we support, including Doctors Without Borders and Medical Aid for Palestine.”

Eurovision Party London added: “Following discussion with the Rio Cinema and its board of trustees, it is with a heavy heart that we have collectively decided not to screen the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest this year. We firmly believe that the Eurovision Song Contest has the power to bring people together across the world, and when its core values of inclusivity, equality and universality are upheld, it can be a genuine force for good. With its own slogan in mind, we hope that we can all be United By Music again soon.”

The move comes after 400 celebrities and industry executives signed an open letter supporting Israel’s inclusion in this year’s contest.

The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest finals will take place on May 9, 11 and 13 at the Malmö Arena, Sweden. The contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public service media, representing over 100 member organizations in 56 countries and an additional 34 associates in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.

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