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UK Rio Cinema Refuses To Screen Eurovision If Israel Competes

In a sign that the Eurovision Song Contest is becoming ever more political as we head towards the competition in May, a London cinema has announced that it will not be screening the Grand Final unless Israel is banned from taking part.

The Rio Cinema in East London, which has screened the Contest on previous occasions and speaks of a longstanding relationship with Eurovision Party London, wrote on social media Saturday:

“… we have collectively decided not to screen the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest while Israel remains in the competition.

“The Eurovision Party London has been a beloved partner of The Rio Cinema for many years, and we will continue to work with them in the future.

“We firmly believe that the Eurovision Song Contest has the power to bring people together across the world, and when its core values of inclusivity, equality and universality are upheld, it can be a genuine force for good. With its own slogan in mind, we hope that we can all be United By Music again soon.

“We will continue to organise fundraising events for the charities we support, including Doctors Without Borders and Medical Aid for Palestine.”

The independent venue isn’t the first to call for Israel to be banned from the event. Last week saw two Belgian ministers saying Israel shouldn’t be there, while the situation in Gaza continues. Previously, the UK’s entry, singer Olly Alexander, was criticised for signing a petition accusing Israel of war crimes and saying its bombardment of Gaza must cease. On the other hand, Israel-supporting celebrities including Oscar winner Helen Mirren have signed a public letter urging that Israel be allowed to take part.

Last week, the Israeli entry’s team revealed they were struggling to stick to Eurovision rules of remaining non-political with their lyrics, while trying to keep the Israeli people happy. However, they did agree to change both the original lyrics of performer Eden Golan’s song October Rain – referring to Hamas’s invasion last year – and retitle it Hurricane, in keeping with European Broadcasting Union guidelines for the Contest.

The final will take place in Malmo, Sweden, on May 11.

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