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Afp

Netherlands mulls host city for Eurovision 2020

By AFP
media Netherlands' Duncan Laurence beat 25 other Eurovision finalists with his stirring power ballad "Arcade" AFP

Several Dutch cities threw their hat in the ring Sunday to host Eurovision 2020 after the Netherlands won this year's glitzy song contest with a stirring power ballad about heartache.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Maastricht have all volunteered to organise the famously kitsch event, which draws millions of viewers with its extravagant performances and over-the-top stage sets.

Bookies' favourite Duncan Laurence handed his home country its first victory in 44 years when he beat 25 other finalists at the latest edition held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old, who came out as bisexual in 2016 and has used his new high profile to advocate more tolerance, wooed audiences with his ballad "Arcade" about a romantic breakup.

Italy finished second and Russia third in the results that combined votes from juries from participating countries as well as viewers at home.

- 'Proud' monarchs -

"We are proud of Duncan Lawrence who has conquered Europe with musical class... and is bringing Eurovision home next year," Dutch King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima said in a tweet shortly after the winner was announced.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte joined the chorus of praise, hailing the performance as "sublime and powerful".

Relatively unknown before being chosen to represent his country, Laurence was visibly moved by his success.

"My dream has come true, it really has come true," he told journalists following his victory -- the Netherlands' first since 1975.

More than 5.3 million Dutch viewers watched the live show, according to Dutch broadcaster Avrotros.

The largely European competition, which gifted the Swedish supergroup ABBA to the world, dates back to the 1950s.

Over the years, it has widened to include channels subscribing to the European Broadcasting Union, and now spreads as far as Australia.

While Eurovision organisers take care to note that the event is meant to be non-political, it is frequently punctured by some controversy.

The Tel Aviv edition was no exception. Two backup dancers for Madonna appeared on stage wearing Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs.

Icelandic group Hatari meanwhile displayed scarfs with Palestinian flags when results were being announced.

Israel won the right to host the extravaganza thanks to last year's victory by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who opened the show on Saturday night.

 
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