Eric Saade and the keffiyeh at Eurovision
Eric Saade and the keffiyeh at EurovisionReuters

The first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 took place on Tuesday evening, in which 15 countries participated, with ten of them advancing to the final.

Israel is not participating in the first semi-final and has been assigned to the second semi-final which will be held on Thursday.

The countries which competed on Tuesday night are Cyprus, Serbia, Lithuania, Ireland, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Iceland, Slovenia, Finland, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg.

At the start of the broadcast, which included performances by past participants in Eurovision, Sweden's representative for Eurovision in 2011 Eric Saade, whose father is Lebanese, appeared with a keffiyeh wrapped around his hand, in violation of the rules of Eurovision.

In recent days, Saade had blasted the decision of the European Broadcasting Union not to allow the entry of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags into the competition. Israelis who were present in the hall on Tuesday night waved Israeli flags in front of the Swedish singer.

Saade's performance was taken down from the official social media accounts of Eurovision, following the provocation and the uproar it created.

The European Broadcasting Union, which is responsible for the competition, stated, "Eurovision is a live television program. All performers are aware of the rules of the competition and we regret that Eric Saade chose to harm the apolitical nature of the event."