On Saturday Albania’s Ronela Hajati was the first artist of Eurovision 2022 to rehearse inside PalaOlimpico.
Given that she’s opening the show, it makes sense that photos from her rehearsal were the first to go up on Saturday afternoon. They quickly became the talk of Twitter and Instagram, specifically the main photo (published at the top of this post), which showed Ronela and her four shirtless dancers with their hands moving toward their nether-regions.
However, by Sunday afternoon the gallery of Ronela had disappeared from the official Eurovision Instagram account. It was subsequently re-uploaded, but without the photo above.
No explanation has been given and Albania was the only country from Day 1 of rehearsals to have their gallery deleted and re-uploaded (and not on the sly).
Sadly, Ronela’s female dancer — who is crucial to theme of the “Sekret” stage show — is not featured in the gallery.
View this post on Instagram
It is safe to assume that Ronela is not happy about it — and whatever else is going on behind the scenes with production.
After word got out about the photo swap, she posted a tweet filled with only “flood of tears” emojis.
Commenters have questioned why a post with 25,000 likes — far more than the other galleries — was deleted.
Still others have suggested this is an act of censorship. A user named @josh.drummond wrote: “they took out the more ‘provocative’ photos…what a joke right.”
?????— Ronela Hajati (@RonelaHajati) May 1, 2022
That would be particularly alarming given that the European Broadcasting Union champions freedom of expression and artistic freedom, even within the confines of a “family show”.
Plans for the stage show and live-on-tape recordings were submitted weeks if not months ago, so producers would have known the tone of the visuals and choreography. So Ronela’s moves shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Luixhino Hala, one of Albania’s most sought-after dancers, posted a message of support for Ronela on Instagram Stories.
“These two photos are deleted?!” he wrote. “Why? Ronela Hajati and Klaudia Pepa — Go on girls with your journey!”