Iceland’s popular Eurovision Song Contest entrant, Dadi og Gagnamagnid, won’t perform live at the event after a member of the group tested positive for coronavirus.
“Dadi og Gagnamagnid have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from performing in this year’s live Eurovision Song Contest shows, as they only want to perform together as a group,” organisers said.
Dadi og Gagnamagnid was one of the favourites to take the Eurovision title later this week.
Their song, 10 Years, will remain in the competition. A recording of the group’s dress rehearsal from last week will be broadcast in Thursday’s second semi-final.
Lead singer Dadi Freyr said in a post on Instagram that members of the Icelandic delegation in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam for the contest “have all been extremely careful the whole trip, so this comes as a huge surprise”.
The 65th edition of the song contest is underway in Rotterdam amid strict testing and hygiene protocols in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
Up to 3,500 fans are allowed to attend dress rehearsals, the semi-finals and Saturday’s final if they have tested negative for the virus.
Australia’s entry, 25-year-old musician Montaigne, was knocked out from the competition during the first semi-final at the weekend.
The coronavirus scare comes amid a protest by several dozen Orthodox Christian faithful and clergy members over Cyprus’ entry in Eurovision, which they contend promotes Satan worship.
The protest, held opposite the gates of the offices of state broadcaster RIK, was the second against the song El Diablo staged by Christians who argue the number has no place as the national song of Cyprus in the contest because of what they say is its brazen invitation to embrace the devil.
Both RIK and singer Elena Tsagrinou say critics have misinterpreted the lyrics of El Diablo, and that it’s actually about an abusive relationship between two lovers.
The song passed its first competition hurdle during a Tuesday semifinal and made it into the contest’s final round.
The people protesting saw that as no cause for celebration, insisting that El Diablo was an affront to Cypriots’ Orthodox faith.
“This song doesn’t represent Cyprus. It doesn’t honour it. It insults Cyprus, it desecrates Cyprus and is dangerous, my good Orthodox Christians,” an unnamed clergyman said into a microphone while addressing the demonstrators.
“It’s dangerous to our children, to our families. There is no chance that the devil can do any good to anyone.”
Ten performers from each of Tuesday’s and Thursday’s semi-finals at the Ahoy Arena progress on to Saturday’s grand final, where they will join the so-called big five of Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, along with the host nation, the Netherlands.
On Tuesday night, voters chose singers or groups from Norway, Israel, Russia, Azerbaijan, Malta, Lithuania, Cyprus, Sweden, Belgium and Ukraine to go on to the final.