Israel’s entry for the Eurovision song was officially revealed Sunday night — hours after a version of the song was leaked to the internet.
The song, titled “Home” and performed by Kobi Marimi, was given its first official public airing during Israel’s television awards, transmitted live by the Kan national broadcaster. A version of the song was already published Sunday afternoon on the Israel Hayom website, however.
The ballad, written by Ohad Shragai and Inbar Vaitzman, beat out 200 other songs submitted to a six-member selection committee headed by Kan‘s musical director.
Israel’s last Eurovision entry, “TOY,” performed by Netta Barzilai, was also leaked online a day before its official release last year. Barzilai went on to win the contest, earning Israel the right to host this year’s event, which will be held in Tel Aviv May 14-18.
Marimi, 27, was chosen to represent Israel in the contest after winning the Rising Star reality singing competition in February. Following the selection of “Home” as the song he would sing, Marimi said the ballad fits well with his music style.
“From the first time I heard the song, it moved me very much and I immediately connected with it,” Marimi said in February.
Israel’s Euovision production has been hampered by problems including a dispute over which city should host the event — Jerusalem, the capital, was ruled out — and suspicions of irregularities in the sale of tickets, resulting in Kan suspending further sales last week.
An initial investigation found that dozens of tickets in prime spots were sold to senior media and sports executives instead of the public.
Pro-Palestinian activists in Europe have called for a boycott of the Eurovision in Tel Aviv, and anti-Israel protesters briefly interrupted a song contest qualifying round in France last month. The entry from Iceland has threatened to break competition rules and carry out an onstage protest in support of the Palestinian cause.