The organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have said they “regret” the opening act making a political statement over the war in the Gaza Strip.

Former Swedish Eurovision contestant Eric Saade was not competing and had the keffiyeh symbol, commonly used by people who want to show they are pro-Palestinian, on his arm on Tuesday as he performed his 2011 entry Popular.

A spokeswoman for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a live TV show.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision fans gather at the Malmo Arena (Martin Meissner/AP)

“All performers are made aware of the rules of the contest, and we regret that Eric Saade chose to compromise the non-political nature of the event.”

Ahead of the event at Malmo Arena, fans were warned not to bring Palestinian flags, symbols or bags and were told that there will be “vigorous security checks”.

Saade had earlier seemed to hit out at the restrictions.

He wrote on Instagram questioning if freedom is “controversial” and why people keep asking if it is “political”.

The terrorist threat level is on four points out of five, but the Swedish Police Authority has said that this is not related to the contest.

There have been several calls and protests urging a boycott of Eurovision this year as Eden Golan competes for Israel.