Norway – No, it wasn’t premonition of their last place this year.The Norwegian national broadcaster NRK was apparently seriously considering to pull out of the Eurovision Song Contest Final on Saturday after a team of their journalists was harassed by Azeri authorities at the airport, when they were about to leave the country.
The team recorded comedic programs with Iranian-Norwegian Amir Asgharnejad, a comedian who pretended to be a reporter from an Iranian TV station asking people on the street and in the Norwegian team mock questions revealing prevailing ultra-conservative views on homosexuality and other issues.Before their departure to Norway, they were stopped by police officials at the check-in, reportedly harassed and threatened. The Azeri officials apparently thought their comedic program was an insult to their country.
Hearing about the event, NRK discussed to withdraw Tooji from the final. “But we chose to go ahead (with Tooji’s performance),” said NRK’s program director, Per Arne Kalbakk. “Pulling Tooji out of Eurovision would have caused bigger problems for the arrangers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and the artists. We decided it would have been the wrong reaction.”
NRK has called the attack on their journalists “unacceptable” and has contacted the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and EBU officials. Rumors suggest that the EBU may consider excluding Azerbaijan from the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest and even from the EBU.