Palestinian Flag Banned From Eurovision Song Contest

Flag policy for the song competition lists political entities whose flags won't be accepted at the contest, also including Nagorno-Karabakh, Crimea and ISIS.

A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009.
Bernat Armangue, AP

The Palestinian flag will be banned from 2016's Eurovision Song Contest, according to the flag policy released Friday by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), along with flags from other disputed political entities including Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus and the flag used by the Islamic State group.

"Particularly, the organizers request and urge the fan community to respect and appreciate the non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest," said the policy statement.

The yearly event does not host a Palestinian representative.

The Eurovision flag policy did note that national flags of non-participating countries would be allowed as long as those nations are members of the UN. The Palestinian Authority has observer status at the UN and does not appear on the official list of member states cited by the EBU. 

An earlier version of the policy stirred controversy by placing the ISIS flag in the list of banned flags next to that of Spain's northern Basque region. The updated policy places the ISIS flag in its own "strictly prohibited" section.

The EBU also included regulations regarding flag size and material, intended to prevent cameras from being blocked.

Rainbow flags, used most frequently by the LGBT community, will be "tolerated," said the EBU, on the condition that they are "not to be used as a tool to intentionally make a political statement during the show."

Eurovision 2016 will take place in the Swedish capital of Stockholm with the winner to be announced on May 14.

Israel is set to be represented by singer Hovi Star who said earlier in April that he was harassed by Russian border control agents who ripped up his passport for being gay.