Switzerland’s Nemo wins Eurovision Song Contest

Nemo of Switzerland celebrates his win at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden.

Nemo of Switzerland celebrates his win at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden. Photo: AFP/Getty

Swiss rapper and singer Nemo has won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with The Code, a drum-and-bass, opera, rap and rock tune about Nemo’s journey of self-discovery as a non-binary person.

Billed as a feel-good celebration of European diversity, this year’s contest has been thrust into the political spotlight with calls for Israel to be excluded over its military campaign in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ deadly attack on October 7 in Israel.

In accepting the Eurovision glass trophy on stage, Nemo said: “I want to say thank you so much. I hope this contest can live up to its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person in this world.”

“To know that a song that has changed my life and a song where I just speak about my story has touched so many people and maybe inspired other people to stay true to their story is the most insane thing that has ever happened to me.”

Cheers of joy broke out in bars in central Zurich when the winner was announced, and Swiss revellers sang along as Nemo tore through a victory rendition of The Code.

“I think it’s just great, Nemo is fantastic,” said Maha Nater, a 24-year-old kindergarten worker celebrating the win in the city after watching the marathon contest.

Nemo’s victory would blaze a trail for others who had had to cope with prejudice against non-binary people, Nater said.

“It sets an example to follow,” she said.

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, real name Marko Purisic, 28, came second with Rim Tim Tagi Dim, a song about a young man who leaves home aspiring to become a “city boy” with better opportunities.

Israel’s Eden Golan, 20, finished fifth in the contest despite demonstrators’ calls for a boycott of the country.

The female solo artist on Thursday emerged as one of the leading contenders to win after qualifying for the final.

Booing was heard during Golan’s performance but also applause, a Reuters photographer in the auditorium said.

The noise was partly audible in the broadcast viewed by tens of millions of people in Europe and around the world.

There was also booing when the points of the Israeli jury were presented.

Several thousand protesters gathered in central Malmo ahead of Saturday’s final, waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Eurovision united by genocide” – a twist on the contest’s official slogan “United by music”.

A few hundred people later also protested outside the venue, chanting: “Eurovision, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide.”

Protesters have been pointing to double standards as the EBU banned Russia from Eurovision in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine.

Police hauled away some protesters before surrounding and ushering them away, a Reuters reporter outside the arena said.

Some protesters were seen lying on the ground after police used pepper spray to disband the demonstration.

Twenty five countries competed in the final after Dutch artist Joost Klein was expelled earlier on Saturday due to a complaint filed by a production crew member.

Viewer votes made up half of Saturday’s final result, while juries of five music professionals in each participating country made up the other half.

The Eurovision winner is awarded the contest’s official glass trophy, which is shaped like a classic, old-fashioned microphone, with sand blasted and painted details. The winner also gets to host the competition the following year.

-Reuters, with AP and PA

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