‘Super happy’ Eurovision success returns to Switzerland

Gjon Muharremaj (centre, holding flag) in Rotterdam Keystone / Robin Van Lonkhuijsen

“I still can’t really believe it!” Gjon Muharremaj said after landing at Zurich Airport on Sunday. The bronze medallist at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is the first Swiss act to make the top three since Céline Dion won the event in 1988.

This content was published on May 24, 2021 - 12:58

Performing the song Tout l’univers (all the universe) under the name Gjon’s Tears, the native of Fribourg was in first position after marks given by professional juries from 38 countries, but when millions of votes from the public were added he was overtaken by eventual winner Italy and runner-up France.

The event in Rotterdam was very intense, he told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA. “It was an incredible experience and I’m more than satisfied. I’m super happy.”

The 22-year-old singer said he hadn’t slept a wink but had partied through the night with the other Eurovision participants. A second-generation Kosovo-Albanian, he had originally wanted to represent Albania, but since that slot had already been taken he applied to sing for Switzerland.

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The Eurovision Song Contest was initiated by the Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union in 1956 – Switzerland won the inaugural competition – and has become one of Europe’s most popular annual music events. Launched to foster unity after the Second World War, it has evolved over the years from a bland ballad-fest to a campy, feel-good extravaganza. It has grown from seven countries to include more than 40, including non-European nations such as Israel and Australia.

Despite doing well in the early days, Switzerland has underperformed since 1988, when unknown Canadian singer Céline Dion was flown in to represent the Alpine nation and ended up flying home with the trophy. Decades of miserable results followed until 2019, when Luca Hänni from Bern came fourth. 

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