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Israel has made it into the Eurovision grand final, despite calls for the country’s entry to be banned from the contest.

Israel’s success in reaching the final stage of the show – which will take place on Saturday – comes against a backdrop of large protests across Malmo, Sweden, which is this year’s host city.

The Pro-Palestinian demonstration ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Pic: AP
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The Pro-Palestinian demonstration before the Eurovision Song Contest. Pic: AP

Israel‘s song Hurricane – sung by 20-year-old Eden Golan – had to be reworked after an initial version titled October Rain was ruled too political by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which believed some lyrics referred to the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

Some believe that some lyrics in the current song – including “Dancin’ in the storm… I’m still broken from this hurricane,” still refer to attacks seven months ago which killed more than 1,000 people and resulted in hundreds of hostages being taken.

During an earlier rehearsal on Tuesday, Golan was met with boos and cries of “Free Palestine,” and an audience member appeared to have a Palestinian flag removed from them in the auditorium.

Israel's Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU
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Israel’s Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

The EBU has said only flags that represent countries taking part, and the rainbow flag, can be brought to the event.

They have said other “flags, symbols, clothing, items and banners being used for the likely purpose of instrumentalising the TV shows” will be removed.

Golan performed her song Hurricane dressed in white and flanked by five backing dancers. The performance centred around a large wheel-like prop in the centre of the stage.

She has said she hopes to unite people through music.

Israel's Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU
Image:
Israel’s Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

Condemnation of ‘harassment’ and ‘abuse’

In the run-up to the competition – which is the world’s largest live music contest – there have been demonstrations and calls for Israel to be banned over their ongoing ground offensive in Gaza.

However, the EBU – which says it is an apolitical organisation – has ruled that Israel can take part, saying it has not broken any broadcasting rules.

The EBU has also condemned the “harassment” and “abuse” of any acts taking part in the show.

This week, the EBU was forced to apologise after former Swedish contestant Eric Saade, who is reportedly of Palestinian origin, wore a keffiyeh around his wrist while he sang in an earlier rehearsal.

On Tuesday, ten acts were chosen for the final in the first semi-final: Ireland’s Bambie Thug, Ukrainian duo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil, Finland’s Windows95Man, Serbia’s Teya Dora, Cyprus’s Silia Kapsis, Lithuania’s Silvester Belt, Croatia’s Baby Lasagna, Slovenia’s Raiven, Portugal’s Iolanda and Luxembourg’s Tali.

The other nine acts who made it through from Thursday’s semi-final were Greece’s Marina Satti, Switzerland’s Nemo, Austria’s Kaleen, Armenia’s Ladaniva, Latvia’s Dons, Georgia’s Nutsa Buzaladze, Estonia’s 5Miinust and Puuluup, Norway’s Gate and The Netherlands’s Joost Klein.

The “Big Five” (the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, who are the largest contributors to the competition) all gain an automatic place in the competition along with host nation Sweden.

In March, nine contestants – including the UK’s Olly Alexander, Ireland’s Bambie Thug and Switzerland’s Nemo – called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the “safe return” of Israeli hostages in a joint statement.

UK's Olly Alexander with Dizzy. Pic: Corinne Cumming/EBU
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UK’s Olly Alexander with Dizzy. Pic: Corinne Cumming/EBU

Ireland's Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Ireland’s Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters

However, they said they would not be boycotting the event in a bid to “uphold this space” and “inspire greater compassion and empathy”.

As it stands, no act has withdrawn from this year’s contest over the war.

More than 34,000 people have been killed, and over 77,000 have been injured in Gaza since the conflict began, according to Gaza’s Hamas-led health ministry.

Israel’s entry Golan, who has been performing since she was nine years old, left Israel when she was six to live in Russia with her family, but returned when she was 18.

Her song, which was co-written by one of the writers and producers of Israel’s 2018 winning number Toy – tells the story of a young woman experiencing a personal crisis.

It’s among the favourites with bookmakers to win the competition.

Last year Israel, who have been performing in the contest since 1973, came third with the song Unicorn performed by Noa Kirel. They have won Eurovision four times.

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The Grand Final is on Saturday night. Sky News will be in Malmo with updates, a live blog, and all the biggest news from the contest as it happens.

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Dide: Masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer announces first live gig

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Dide: Masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer announces first live gig

Dide, the anonymous masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer, has announced his first live gig.

The music star, who rose to prominence on social media last year and wears a studded black rose mask to conceal his identity, will perform in London in June.

Known only as Dide, the incognito rapper has sparked frenzied speculation about his identity, with Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson, Chelsea’s Noni Madueke, Fulham’s Alex Iwobi and West Ham’s Michail Antonio among the names thrown into the mix.

“The main thing for me is the music rather than the football player,” he told Sky News exclusively Iast year, in his first on-camera interview. “I guess fans and the public ran with all these different opinions, which is cool.”

Who is Dide? Sky News meets the mystery rapper

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October 2023: Dide speaks to Sky News

Announcing his first live show, he said: “Finally, my first live show! My first live public performance.

“I know you all have been getting on to me about doing one. You can’t miss this!”

The show will take place at The Lower Third on Denmark Street in Soho, central London, on 20 June.

Interestingly, England take on Denmark for their second group-stage match of Euro 2024 in Germany that afternoon. Could this be a reason behind his choice of venue, or coincidence?

Either way, presumably he won’t be at the match – ruling out Saka, who is in the England squad – but hopefully he’ll get to watch before he goes on stage.

However, there’s no mention of the England game in his announcement.

“Thank you for your support,” Dide added. “See you at the show.”

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Ahead of the gig announcement, Dide shared a video on social media announcing Energy, which could be a new track, to be released on Thursday.

“Time to peel back the layers,” he wrote alongside the clip. “Mask off.”

During our interview last year, he told Sky News his identity would be revealed in the future.

Fans will no doubt be watching to see if and when that happens.

Pre-sale tickets are available from 23 May, with general tickets on sale from 28 May.

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The gigs, sports events and festivals that clash with the 4 July general election

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The gigs, sports events and festivals that clash with the 4 July general election

Some sports fans and music lovers who want to vote are set to be double booked on polling day after Rishi Sunak called a general election on 4 July.

The prime minister announced in the pouring rain this afternoon that “now is the moment for Britain to choose its future“.

But those set to see The Killers at the O2 Arena or Megan Thee Stallion at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro who also want to vote may face a challenge to their plans.

Other gigs clashing with the general election include Morgan Wallen’s biggest-ever UK show at Hyde Park, and Paloma Faith’s stadium show at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff.

Comedian James Acaster – who backed Labour’s Rosie Wrighting to be elected MP in Kettering – is also performing at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town on the same day as the election.

Usually, polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day and require attendance in-person with an acceptable form of ID.

The Electoral Commission says they can get busy, however, particularly before most people start work or towards the end of the day, which might make it harder for people to attend events and vote on the same day.

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But it is possible to vote by post, or by proxy, the commission says, if you have applied to do so within the deadline.

The crowd for Fred Again at Glastonbury
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The thousands at Glastonbury will be back from the festival in time to vote on 4 July

A number of other music festivals are either starting on Wednesday 3 July or Thursday 4th, and others are starting the day after, including BST at Hyde Park with Kings Of Leon, Kylie, Robbie Williams and Andrea Bocelli, among others.

Glastonbury attendees will be relieved however as election day comes the week after the four-day festival, held from the 26 to 30 June.

Just after hours after announcing the election, Sunak rolled out the Conservative’s vision for another five years at the ExCel centre in east London.

But the prime minister might pause campaigning in four days’ time to watch Southampton play Leeds in the Championship playoff final. He was spotted at St Mary’s Stadium to watch the Saints see off West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

What about the Euros?

Sticking with football, both England and Scotland will look to win Euro 2024 in Germany this summer, while Sunak and Keir Starmer campaign at home.

The Three Lions will play Serbia on 16 June, Denmark on 20 June and Slovenia on 25 June.

Meanwhile, Scotland will kick off the tournament against Germany on 14 June, before playing Switzerland on 19 June and Hungary on 23 June.

There’s also a chance either side could play the day after the general election: If England finish second in their group and win their round of 16 game, they will play on 5 July at the MHPArena in Stuttgart.

Scotland will play this day if they top their group and win the first knockout game.

If England finish first in their group, or if Scotland finish second, and either side win their round of 16 game, they will play on Saturday 6 July instead.

England Team
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England will play the day after the general election if they finish second in their group and win their round of 16 game

Any other clashes?

For some private schools, 4 July is the end of term, which could mean some intend to start their holidays on that day.

For those watching the tennis, Wimbledon will take place from 1 July to 14 July – often a full day trip for many who attend.

On the day of the election, the tournament will see the second round of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles, as well as the first round of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles.

The Henley Royal Regatta will be in full swing on 4 July, having started two days before, while the British Grand Prix is due to get under way the day after on 5 July.

Read more:
Sunak’s general election speech in full
Why summer election is a big call for PM
Starmer declares ‘time for change’

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But those perhaps most likely to be annoyed by the election date will be in Scotland, with the six-week state school summer holiday starting from 28 June, with many jetting off as soon as the children break up.

Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, expressed his discontent on X just after Sunak spoke, saying: “A Scottish school summer holiday election is the final insult this Tory Government can impose on Scotland.”

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Matthew Perry: Police investigate source of ketamine which killed Friends star

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Matthew Perry: Police investigate source of ketamine which killed Friends star

Police are investigating the source of the ketamine which killed actor Matthew Perry, it has emerged.

Perry, who was best known for playing wise-cracking Chandler Bing in Friends, died at his LA home last October after being found unresponsive in a swimming pool.

A post-mortem found his death was an accident from “the acute effects of ketamine”.

Ketamine is a sedative that can be used as a recreational drug, as well as to treat depression.

Read more: Matthew Perry – A life in pictures

Los Angeles Police Department says it is working with the Drug Enforcement Agency as part of an investigation into why Perry, 54, had so much ketamine in his system at the time of his death.

People close to Perry told investigators that he was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy – an experimental treatment – according to his autopsy.

The medical examiner wrote however that Perry’s last treatment was one and a half weeks before his death and would not explain the levels of ketamine in his blood.

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From October: Remembering Matthew Perry

Perry, who was 54, had also drowned in “the heated end of his pool” in what the medical examiner described as a secondary factor in his death.

They added he had “reportedly been clean for 19 months”. Perry regularly spoke about his battle with addiction – including a near-death experience in 2019 after his colon burst as a result of opioid use.

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Perry recalled one instance when fellow Friends star Jennifer Aniston confronted him about being inebriated while filming.

“I know you’re drinking,” he remembered her telling him.

“We can smell it,” she said in what Perry called a “kind of weird but loving way” – adding: “The plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer.”

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Speaking to NBC’s Today presenter Hoda Kotb on her Making Spaces podcast in March, Perry’s stepfather said the star “felt like he was beating” his battles with addiction.

Keith Morrison, an award-winning correspondent for Dateline NBC, said his stepson “didn’t get to have his third act, and that’s not fair”.

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