Kobi Marimi: I'm so happy to see everyone in Tel Aviv

Israel's Eurovision contestant holds his first rehearsal on stage at the Expo Tel Aviv on Friday.

Kobi Marimi holds his first Eurovision rehearsal on Friday in Tel Aviv.  (photo credit: ANDRES PUTTING/EBU)
Kobi Marimi holds his first Eurovision rehearsal on Friday in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: ANDRES PUTTING/EBU)
Kobi Marimi, Israel’s 2019 Eurovision contestant, said Friday that it was hard for him to step out on to the Eurovision stage without crying.
“It was amazing, being on this stage,” he said Friday afternoon at a press conference at the Expo Tel Aviv, hours after his first rehearsal.
“I’m always emotional, and I feel like I’m about to cry, because I’ve been waiting so long for Eurovision to come here. I’m a big Eurovision fan, I watched the contest every year with my family... The hardest thing for me [today] was to sing on that stage for the first time without crying.”
Asked about the criticism of his song, “Home,” within Israel, Marimi said he isn’t shaken by it.
“It’s a piece of art and people should talk about it,” he said. “If you want to change something and do something you need to know that you will get criticized – good and bad. I love what we did and I love what we have and I believe in it no matter what.”
Marimi said he and his team are still working on the staging for the live performance of “Home,” and things are bound to still slightly change.
“I know that things are going to be way different in Eurovision, it was the first rehearsal, there are things I want to change,” he said. “But it’s going to be amazing. I’m happy that we’re all here, in Israel, in Tel Aviv. It’s a great honor for us.”
Marimi said he hopes that he can serve as a role model for kids around the world.
“It doesn’t matter how you look, you just need to be who you are, feel good about yourself,” he said. “And I hope that now I can be there for young people and help them know that no matter where they come from, their sexuality, their color and the way they look... you are all someone, you all deserve to feel at home in your skin,” he said, referencing his Eurovision song. “Stand up for yourself and dare to dream and your dreams will come true.”
Earlier in the day, Marimi took to the stage for the first time in the Expo Tel Aviv, for his first Eurovision rehearsal. He appeared in a black, three-piece suit, with a metallic bowtie, and a team of five backup singers. At times Marimi sang in front of huge projections of his face on the LED screens behind him.
During one run-through, he introduced some pyrotechnics at the end of the performance.
Israel is currently ranked in 25th place in the Eurovision betting charts; it cannot finish below 26th place, the number of countries participating in the finale.
Along with Israel, the big five countries – Germany, Spain, France, the UK and Italy – are all prequalified for the grand finale, and won’t appear live on stage until May 18.
All 41 contestants, however, will appear on the “orange carpet” kick-off event in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.