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First Ethiopian-Israeli Tapped to Represent Jewish State at Eurovision Holds Back Tears at News of Contest’s Cancellation Due to Coronavirus

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Eden Alene. Photo: Shlomi Cohen / Flash90.

The first Ethiopian-Israeli contestant picked to represent the Jewish state in the Eurovision song contest held back tears on Wednesday at the news that the competition would be canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Eden Alene, who won Israel’s “Rising Star” television competition to become the country’s Eurovision contestant this year, was interviewed by public broadcaster Kan just after learned of the cancellation.

“I’m in shock,” she said. “I don’t know how to digest it. I’m annoyed. I wanted to go do it and win.”

“I felt like we had a really good chance,” Alene said, and expressed concern that the popularity of her song “Feker Libi” would fade away before it could be sung in competition.

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“I saw people’s reactions and they loved the song, its message and its meaning, and it so disappointed me,” she stated.

“Every song has momentum, and if it’s next year, it’s unclear if there’ll be a new song, whether it’ll be me again or another contestant,” she added.

However, Alene noted, she was aware that her frustration was a “small thing” compared to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fact that [Eurovision] was canceled shows how terrible the situation is,” she said.

The contest was due to be held in May in the Netherlands, but the European Broadcasting Union announced the cancellation on Wednesday, citing the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the severe restrictions enacted by the Dutch Ministry of Health.

This marks the first time the song contest has been canceled in its 65-year history.

Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision with the song “Toy,” and Israel hosted the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv.

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