Eurovision have banned Palestinian flags and symbols

Eurovision organisers have confirmed that they reserve the right to remove Palestinian flags and pro-Palestinian symbols during the contest in Malmö, Sweden next week.

The contest’s communications head has said that ticket buyers will only be allowed to display the flags of competing countries – including Israel – and the Pride flag. In a message to the Associated Press, they also said that “clothes, items or posters that can be used as instruments to be shown on television screens” featuring pro-Palestinian symbols may also be banned.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations are expected to take place in protest of Israel’s controversial participation in the contest following the current tensions with Hamas that have been ongoing since October. Protesters are expected to gather in downtown Malmö, several miles from the arena where Eurovision will be held.

Israel’s entry also proved controversial. Originally titled ‘October Rain’, the song – performed by Eden Golan –  appeared to contain references to the victims of Hamas’ October 7 attacks and was barred from performance due to breaking rules on political neutrality.


Though Israel originally threatened to withdraw from the competition if any changes were to be made, a call from Israeli president Isaac Herzog for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel’s participation has prompted their public broadcaster KAN to agree to amend the song. On March 9, Israel was confirmed to compete after changes were made to the lyrics and the song’s title was changed to ‘Hurricane’.

Malmö Arena, where Eurovision is being held
Malmö Arena, a multi-purpose sports and concerts indoor venue, home for SHL ice hockey club Malmö Redhawks, host venue for Eurovision Song Contest 2024 and 2013. Hyllie, Malmo, Sweden – May 2022

There have been a number of calls to boycott the competition from various countries. Over 1,000 Swedish artists called for Israel to be banned this year, such as RobynFever Ray, and First Aid Kit, whilst over 1,400 Finnish music industry professionals have signed a petition to ban the country from taking part of the contest as well.


In the buildup to the 2024 edition, individual artists such as Olly Alexander have faced calls to boycott the event as well. Alexander, the UK’s entry this year, initially signed a statement last December calling Israel an “apartheid state” and accusing it of genocide.

However, after receiving an open letter from numerous queer artists and individuals to boycott Eurovision last March, a number of Eurovision performers – including Ireland’s Bambie Thug, Norway’s Gåte, Portugal’s Iolanda and Alexander himself – responded to the letter saying they “firmly believe in the unifying power of music”.

Shortly afterwards, Alexander confirmed he would not be boycotting Eurovision, adding: “I know some people will choose to boycott this year’s Eurovision and I understand and respect their decision.”

“As a participant I’ve taken a lot of time to deliberate over what to do and the options available to me,” he continued. “It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal.


“Instead, I’ve been speaking with some of the other EV contestants and we’ve decided that by taking part we can use our platform to come together and call for peace.”

Meanwhile, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has warned against “harassing” Eurovision entrants this year over Israel’s participation.

Deputy Director General Jean Philip De Tender wrote: “The European Broadcasting Union acknowledges the depth of feeling and the strong opinions that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – set against the backdrop of a terrible war in the Middle East – has provoked.

“We understand that people will want to engage in debate and express their deeply held views on this matter. We have all been affected by the images, stories and the unquestionable pain suffered by those in Israel and in Gaza.”

However, Tender addressed the concerns of the “targeted social media campaigns” being carried out. He wrote that the “decision to include any broadcaster, including the Israeli broadcaster KAN, in the Eurovision Song Contest is the sole responsibility of the EBU’s governing bodies and not that of the individual artists.”

He also wrote that whilst the EBU “strongly” supports “freedom of speech and the right to express opinions in a democratic society”, “we firmly oppose any form of online abuse, hate speech, or harassment directed at our artists or any individuals associated with the contest.

“This is unacceptable and totally unfair, given the artists have no role in this decision.”