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Thursday 24 October 2019

Eurovision Song Contest grand final kicks off in Tel Aviv without Ireland in the race

The 26 finalists will perform for the coveted ‘douze’ points.

Israel’s Eurovision presenters (Thomas Hanses)
Israel’s Eurovision presenters (Thomas Hanses)

Alex Green

The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 has begun at the Expo Tel Aviv venue in Israel, with a performance by a cohort of the musical extravaganza’s former stars.

However Ireland crashed out of  the Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday night after Sarah McTernan failed to make it through.

The 25-year-old singer from Scariff, Co Clare, was given slim hopes of getting through, but delivered a solid performance of her pop song '22' in Tel Aviv in Israel.

Israel’s Netta Barzilai and Dana International, both previous winners, were joined by Swedish champion Mans Zelmerlow for a performance of Omer Adam’s song Tel Aviv, during which the 26 finalists were introduced before taking their seats to one side of the stage.

Malta’s Michela Pace opened the show with her song Chameleon, dancing in front of shifting graphics showing an urban landscape.

Second was Albania’s Jonida Maliqi with Ktheju Tokes, a dramatic and slow-paced track with lyrics referencing the Kosovo War

Third in front of the audience was three-piece boy band Lake Malawi with their pop-rock song Friend Of A Friend. The performance saw the group from the Czech Republic pogo-ing around the stage.

Two semi-finals, numerous dress rehearsals and a week of press and audience events have led up to this point.

The finalists will perform for the international public vote, which will make up 50% of the total vote, with the other half determined by a professional jury in each participating country, who cast their votes during performances on Friday.

Speaking before the performance, the UK’s Michael Rice told the Press Association: “I’m so looking forward to tonight. I’m going to sing my heart out and give it my best shot.”

Earlier, fans daubed their cheeks with their nation’s colours and wrapped flags around their shoulders as they made their way to the arena.

Despite his song being chosen to open the evening, Israeli dance-pop artist Adam, 25, was not present for the event.

He had been invited to perform but declined because rehearsals fell during Shabbat, Israel’s day of rest.

Extra buses were also scheduled to carry the audience to the venue, compensating for there being no public transport between the Shabbat hours of Friday sundown and Saturday sundown.

As per one of Eurovision’s most famous quirks, fans can vote up to 20 times but will be unable to select their own country’s entry.

Speaking after the announcement of the results on Tuesday, Ireland's  Sarah said she was "really happy" with her performance on the night.

"I felt really happy in myself," she said.

"One thing I just wanted to look back was just to be happy and comfortable with my performance myself. And you know what? I was happy.

"All of the team worked so hard and they're absolutely incredible and things don't always go your way but we're looking on the bright side."

The Eurovision contest has come under fire from the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which is accusing Israel of using music to 'whitewash' its policy towards Palestinians.

On Tuesday, pop icon Madonna responded to criticism from Palestinian activists about her plan to perform at the final tomorrow night, stating that she wanted to use her performance to create "a new path toward peace".

PA Media

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