(Zurich) Singer Nemo received a hero’s welcome on his return to Switzerland after his victory in the 2024 Eurovision song contest, an edition marked by controversy over Israel’s participation in the midst of the war in the Gaza Strip.

“Congratulations honey pie! “, exclaimed an admirer of the 24-year-old non-binary artist, handing him a bouquet of flowers, upon his arrival at Zurich airport from Copenhagen.

Others waved flags bearing the message in English: “We exist, we insist, we persist,” in reference to the struggle of non-binary people for recognition of their identity.

Another banner proclaimed “Woman, Man, Human” in German.

Nemo Mettler won the competition with The Code, a highly personal track chronicling his journey toward realizing his gender identity.

Switzerland beat Croatia, Ukraine, France, led by singer Slimane, and Israel, represented by Eden Golan. The presence of a candidate from Israel sparked intense controversy as her country launched a deadly offensive in Gaza, following a bloody Hamas attack on October 7 in Israel.

The European Broadcast Union, which organizes the event, estimated that more than 160 million people watched the 2024 competition, broadcast live in the 37 countries participating in the final and on YouTube.

This competition regularly appears as a showcase for the LGBTQ community. The Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst, winner in 2014, or the French candidate Bilal Hassani in 2019, have entered his annals.

Fans gathered behind barriers had waited patiently for Nemo as he sang his song again.

Applause began to ring out when Nemo appeared, who responded with two thumbs up before taking selfies and signing autographs.

Nemo joined the group of fans chanting “We broke the codes,” “We exist,” going so far as to hug a fan who was wearing a “Protect trans kids” t-shirt.

At a press conference after this triumphant return, the Swiss indicated that he wanted to rest in his garden. “I’m going to lie down and try to calm down a little bit,” the artist said. “It feels like it’s not real.”

“I broke the codes. I broke the trophy,” Nemo repeated, after literally breaking it in a gesture of enthusiasm when he received his prize.

The welcome from fans at the airport was “extremely beautiful […] it showed me how good it is to be part of a community.”

Nemo Mettler, who currently lives in Berlin, is originally from Bienne, a bilingual German-French city in northern Switzerland, where a public reception is planned to congratulate the child of the country.

“It will certainly be a big party in the city, with the public, the fans,” predicted Biel Mayor Erich Fehr, interviewed at the airport by the Swiss press agency Keystone-ATS.

“It’s crazy, it’s an incredible story that Nemo de Bienne won this title. The largest music competition in the world. We are really proud and happy,” he added.

The head of the Corporation of Swiss Broadcasters, Gilles Marchand, also underlined the “immense success” of Nemo.

This is Switzerland’s third victory in the Eurovision contest since its creation in 1956. As tradition dictates, the country will host the next edition.

“Even though broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest is a major challenge for all television channels in terms of resources and finances, we are nevertheless delighted to know that our country will host this much-loved event in 2025,” continued Mr. Marchand.