Eurovision contestants walk the orange carpet in Tel Aviv

Eurovision contestants walk the orange carpet in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV - Reuters
Eurovision contestants walk the orange carpet in Tel Aviv

Tulia of Poland

Contestants from 41 countries walked an orange carpet in Tel Aviv's "Culture Square" on May 12 for the opening ceremony of Eurovision 2019, brushing aside security concerns and calls for a pro-Palestinian boycott.

The 64th Eurovision Song Contest holds semi-finals in Tel Aviv, Israel's entertainment and business capital, today and May 16 ahead of the grand final on May 18.

Instead of the traditional red carpet, an orange carpet, matching the logo of a company sponsoring the international song fest, was rolled out at the Tel Aviv square that houses Israel's Habima national theater and the Israel Philharmonic.

"Everyone is excited in my team. I'm really happy to be here," said Cypriot singer Tamta, the first artist to stroll the walkway flanked by visiting photographers and reporters.

The four members of Poland's Tulia gave a quick sample of their folk singing style called "piewokrzyk" or "scream singing" to the crowd's enjoyment.

Finish DJ Darude said artists behind the scenes of the festival were "slapping high-fives and having a good time."

Concerns had been raised that the contest could be disrupted by a surge in cross-border violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. But a ceasefire that went into effect a week ago has been holding.

When Israel was selected last year to host the 2019 Eurovision finals, the internationally televised event was identified by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a target for its campaign to pressure governments, companies, performers and academics to isolate Israel.

BDS has called on artists and broadcasters to withdraw, saying that holding it in Tel Aviv amounted to "artwashing - whitewashing through arts" Israel's policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

No delegations have pulled out.