Kate stuns at Eurovision opening

Contestants from 41 countries, including Australia, have walked an orange carpet in Tel Aviv for the opening ceremony of Eurovision 2019, brushing aside security concerns and calls for a boycott.

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

Australia has chosen classically trained singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke, 37, as its Eurovision representative. Miller-Heidke won the nationally televised competition to represent Australia.

Kate Miller-Heidke hit the orange carpet in Tel Aviv. Picture: AP
Kate Miller-Heidke hit the orange carpet in Tel Aviv. Picture: AP

Eurovision is the world's largest television music competition. Despite being a European contest, Australia has been competing in Eurovision since 2015.

Australia's inclusion is in recognition of the country's large fan base. Three million Aussies watched Eurovision last year.

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

It is the first time Israel has hosted the event.

Kate Miller-Heidke plays a fan party ahead of her performance at Eurovison. Picture: Rami Zarnegar
Kate Miller-Heidke plays a fan party ahead of her performance at Eurovison. Picture: Rami Zarnegar

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 campaign as a target for its campaign to pressure governments, companies, performers and academics to isolate Israel over its policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

No delegation has pulled out.

Kate Miller-Heidke in Tel Aviv  for the start of Eurovision. Picture: AP
Kate Miller-Heidke in Tel Aviv for the start of Eurovision. Picture: AP

Israel has mounted a counter-campaign, rebutting BDS attacks and accusing some supporters of being anti-Semitic or having ties to militant groups such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, allegations BDS leaders reject.

The Eurovision Village, located at the beachfront Charles Clore Park, opened to the general public on Sunday evening. Over the course of the week it will offer live performances by Israeli and international artists and a live DJ stage. The competition will be held on May 14-18 in the Expo event hall in northern Tel Aviv.

The line-up of interval acts includes US pop icon Madonna and Israeli film star Gal Gadot as well as past Eurovision winners and contestants from various countries.

Kate Miller-Heidke with son Ernie before she heads to Eurovision. Picture: Instagram/@katemillerheidke
Kate Miller-Heidke with son Ernie before she heads to Eurovision. Picture: Instagram/@katemillerheidke

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