Ollie Alexander addresses 'severe’ comments from fans over Israel’s Eurovision entry | Arts & Arts News

Years & Years singer and It’s a Sin actor Olly Alexander has been selected as the UK’s representative for Eurovision next week in Malmö, Sweden, but has faced criticism for his involvement in the competition.

Sun 5 May 2024 10:59, UK

England’s Eurovision Song Contest representative has addressed fans’ „severe” comments about Israel’s inclusion in the contest.

Ollie Alexander has been chosen as this year’s UK representative for the popular song contest.

It is due to take place next week in Malmö, Sweden, but tens of thousands are expected to protest Israel’s intervention and its ongoing war in Gaza.

Alexander, the Years & Years singer, has faced criticism from some who have called for him to withdraw amid the ongoing crisis. War between Israel and Hamas.

Queers for Palestine sent a letter signed by thousands, including actors India Moore, Brigitte Lundy-Payne and Maxine Peake, calling on the It’s a Sin actor to quit the show.

In March, Alexander issued a joint statement alongside Ireland’s hopeful Bambi Thug, Danish entrant Saba and other Eurovision artists, advocating an „immediate and lasting ceasefire” but refusing to boycott the event.

Now, the 33-year-old, speaking in a new documentary that follows him as he prepares for the show, has described some of the comments he and other contestants faced as „very intense”.

Bambi Thak, Ireland’s 2024 Eurovision Song Contest entrant, has signed a statement supporting an immediate ceasefire but refuses to boycott the event. Image: Pa

He said: „A lot of the contestants and I have a lot of ideas like 'by taking part in Eurovision you’re complicit in a genocide’, it’s very serious. It’s very serious.

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„I understand where that feeling comes from, but I don’t think it’s right.

„It’s an incredibly complicated political situation that I’m not qualified to talk about.

„The backdrop is really enormous suffering. It’s a humanitarian crisis, a war.

„There’s a song contest going on at the same time I’m a part of it.”

Speaking in a BBC documentary entitled Olly Alexander’s Road To Eurovision ’24, he went on to say that if people don’t feel comfortable watching Eurovision they should boycott it and that he respects their decision.

He added: „My plan is to put on a great performance in Malmö.

„My team, everyone has worked very hard and we are now in the final stages.”

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Earlier in the week, Alexander broke down in tears during an interview with The Times when discussing the pressure that came with taking part in Eurovision.

He told the paper that he knew many people who had signed the petition against him and none had approached him.

He said: „It’s a lot bigger than me and Eurovision, it really is. But, frankly, I wish there wasn’t a war or this crazy humanitarian crisis.

“I love peace, and sometimes I feel this experience too much.

Speaking on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Jean-Philippe de Tender, deputy director general of the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision, backed Israel’s inclusion in the contest.

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He said: “We understand the concerns and the deep feelings surrounding war in the Middle East.

„The Song Contest is a musical event organized and co-produced by 37 public broadcasters, not a competition between countries or governments.

„Khan’s participation was reviewed by our governing bodies [Israel’s public broadcasting corporation] They found that they met all the competition rules.”

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Phillips pointed to incidents when Khan set fire to their broadcasts.

In this, he said, in the public broadcaster’s own words, when Khan released a video of children singing and saw one of their presenters write, „I want to send artillery shells to Gaza.” .

Mr De Tender said he had been in touch with Khan about the content they published and their editorial output and raised concerns from time to time.

He added that Eurovision had competition rules they had to follow and that going beyond these rules to exclude Khan would have been „a political decision we couldn’t make”.

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