Eurovision contestants walk the orange carpet in Tel Aviv

Eurovision contestants walk the orange carpet in Tel Aviv

Israel has launched a PR campaign to counter calls for a boycott of the Eurovision contest by the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Neil Farren, a Eurovision commentator live-blogging contest preparations in Tel Aviv, said the visibly heightened security and briefings on air raid sirens and bomb shelters likely rattled some contenders, who have so far remained tight-lipped about the political situation.

"Terrorist groups may choose the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv (May 14-18), or Nakba Day (May 15), to conduct violent protests or an attack".

Madonna and her entourage of 135 people, including the rapper KoVu, 40 backing singers, 25 dancers and a team of technicians, were expected to fly in on Wednesday, according to reports citing the Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, said by the press to be footing a large part of the bill to bring Madonna to perform in Israel.

"If we do not have a signed contract she can not perform on our stage".

Last year's victor of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, Netta Barzilai of Israel, takes part at the "Orange Carpet" opening ceremony of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 12, 2019. "I'm really happy to be here", said Cypriot singer Tamta, the first artist to stroll the walkway flanked by visiting photographers and reporters.

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She says she prays for "a new path toward peace". "We are in a situation now that is a bit odd".

A source told Israeli publication Haartez one of the songs she sings will be a classic track, while the other will be her new single.

Kathy McCabe is in Tel Aviv as a guest of SBS. "Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations - and we can not ignore Israel's systematic violation of Palestinian human rights", they wrote.

Madonna's producers said in April the star would sing the Grand Finale of the music contest in Tel Aviv, which was designated the host city after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won in Portugal a year ago.

The popular Eurovision competition features musicians from more than 40 nations and was watched a year ago by some 189 million viewers in around 50 European countries. "Everywhere's f****d, and in terms of the cultural boycott of Israel, that's what the Palestinian people have asked for".

In 2008, the format was extended to include two semifinal shows, held on the Tuesday and Thursday prior to the final - which traditionally takes place on a Saturday - as the number of participating countries had swelled to preclude featuring every entrant in a single show.

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