The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will be the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv, Israel, following their victory at the 2018 contest in Lisbon, Portugal with the song "Toy", performed by Netta. The contest will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center and will consist of two semi-finals on 14 and 16 May, and the final on 18 May 2019.
As of 21 September 2018, thirty-four eligible countries have confirmed their intentions to participate in the contest.
Tel Aviv Convention Center, Tel Aviv - host venue of the 2019 contest
The 2019 contest will take place in Israel for the third time, after 1979 and 1999, following the country's victory at the 2018 edition with the song "Toy", performed by Netta Barzilai.
The contest will take place at the Tel Aviv Convention Center's 10,000-seat congress and convention center called "Bitan 2" (Pavilion 2), which was inaugurated in January 2015. Located on Rokach Boulevard in northern Tel Aviv, it serves as a venue for a variety of events, including concerts, exhibitions, trade fairs and conferences. The fairground has ten halls and pavilions and a large outdoor space including an amusement park. The new pavilion hosted the 2018 European Judo Championships from 26–28 April.
Bidding phase and host city selection
Locations of the candidate cities in Israel: the eliminated cities are marked in red, with the shortlisted cities in green and the chosen host city in blue.
After Israel's victory in Lisbon, Portugal, Netta Barzilai and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the 2019 contest would be held in Jerusalem, but this was yet to be confirmed by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC/KAN) and the European Broadcasting Union(EBU). Israeli finance minister Moshe Kahlon also stated in an interview that the event would be solely held in Jerusalem and estimated its cost at 120 million Israeli shekels (approximately €29 million). The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, mentioned Jerusalem Arena and Teddy Stadium as possible venues to host the event. The municipality of Jerusalem has also confirmed that the contest would not be held at the International Convention Centre, which hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 and 1999, due to its insufficient capacity.
On 19 June 2018, Israel was officially confirmed as the host country, and on 24 June 2018, KAN formally opened the bidding process for cities interested in hosting the 2019 contest.
On 18 June 2018, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel had committed to remaining in compliance with EBU rules regarding the constitution of member broadcasters, as to not affect its hosting of Eurovision. The IPBC's establishment included a condition that news programming would later be delegated to a second public broadcasting entity, which violates EBU rules requiring member broadcasters to have their own internal news departments.
On 28 July 2018, Israeli Minister Michael Oren, who is closely connected to Prime Minister Netanyahu, stated that Jerusalem did not have the resources to host the contest, restating the common talking point that Tel Aviv was the more likely host. Soon after, reports of the government not providing the €12 million downpayment, Kan requested to cover hosting expenses and security surfaced, with a compromise reached on 29 July 2018.
Following a tense back-and-forth between Kan and the government, in which it seemed that Kan would forfeit their hosting rights due to a lack of finances, a compromise between the two parties was reached that would see Kan paying the €12 million to the EBU and the Finance Ministry covering expenses should complications arise. The Mayor of Tel Aviv announced that the city would be willing to pay for the Convention Center itself, should it be chosen as the host city.
The week of 27 August 2018, executive supervisor/scrutineer Jon Ola Sand led a handful of EBU delegates around Israel to scope out the potential venues in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and to hear the bid from Eilat. On 30 August 2018, Sand stated in an interview with Kan that Eilat was no longer in the running to host, leaving it between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He also stated that there was no serious discussion among members of the EBU for boycotting the event.
On 13 September 2018, the EBU announced Tel Aviv and the Tel Aviv Convention Center as the host city and venue of the 2019 contest.
† Host venue
||Candidacy had been dependent on the construction of a roof.
||Hangars on the port
||Proposal intended to connect two hangars to a hall, in order to meet the EBU's capacity and venue requirements.
||Sammy Ofer Stadium
||Candidacy had been dependent on the construction of a roof.
||Indoor arena similar to the venues of recent contests. It was Jerusalem's preferred venue, in case they were chosen to be the host city.
||Candidacy had been dependent on the construction of a roof.
||Both candidacies had been dependent on the construction of a new venue.
||Tel Aviv Convention Center, Pavilion 2 †
Provisional list of participating countries
The following countries have expressed their provisional interest in participating in the contest:
Eligibility for potential participation in the Eurovision Song Contest requires a national broadcaster with active EBU membership that will be able to broadcast the contest via the Eurovision network. The EBU will issue an invitation of participation in the contest to all fifty-six active members. It is unknown whether an invitation will be issued to associate member Australia. The Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara has also invited countries from the Middle Eastern and North African region, with which Israel largely has tense relationships or no diplomatic relations. Kara pointed out Tunisia and the Gulf states Saudi Arabia as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi as part of the United Arab Emirates. Tunisia is eligible to participate but has not due to rules banning the promotion of Israeli content, while the Gulf states do not have a national broadcaster with EBU membership. Also, Tunisia and the Gulf states all have laws against LGBT acts.
Active EBU members
- Andorra – Despite being absent for 10 years, local media reported that Ràdio i Televisió d'Andorra (RTVA) was still interested in returning to the contest, but the principality's failure to make the final along with the cost was discouraging the broadcaster from participating. In order for a return to take place, RTVA would need funding from the Andorran Government. On 19 May 2018, Andorra confirmed that they would not return in 2019.
- Italy – On 28 June 2018, Italian broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) confirmed the dates of the 2019 Festival di Sanremo, which in recent years has been used to select Italy's Eurovision entry. However, they did not report whether they were participating in the 2019 contest or if Sanremo would once again be the preferred way of selecting an entry.
- Monaco – On 17 August 2018, the Monégasque broadcaster Télé Monte Carlo (TMC) announced that they will not return to the contest in 2019. Monaco last took part in 2006.
- San Marino - Despite the organisers of 1in360 confirming their interest in producing a second series of the selection method, it was stated on 28 August 2018 that it is currently uncertain whether the show will be the selection procedure in 2019. On 9 September 2018, San Marino RTV (SMRTV) announced that they had not yet decided on participation in the 2019 contest.
The following countries participated in 2018, but have not yet made any official announcement regarding their participation in 2019.
Associate EBU members
- Australia – On 29 May 2018, the CEO of the Australian broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Michael Ebeid, dismissed claims of boycotting the contest in 2019, saying that "...I can’t imagine that we would not televise Eurovision next year." Although a confirmation that they would broadcast the 2019 contest, this did not confirm that Australia would return, as they would need to be invited by the Israeli Broadcaster IPBC. In addition, on 21 September Ebeid stated at the opening ceremony of the AGMC (Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council), that there is a strong possibility that the Australian public would be able to choose their next representative for the first time.
- Kazakhstan – On 22 December 2017, it was claimed that Channel 31 had finalised negotiations with the EBU, allowing Kazakhstan to debut in 2019; however, on 23 December 2017, the EBU told Esctoday that "Channel 31 Kazakhstan has indeed expressed interest in becoming a member of the EBU and hence participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. However, since Channel 31 is outside the European Broadcasting Area and is also not a member of the Council of Europe, it is not eligible to become an active member of the EBU". On 25 July 2018, it was announced that Kazakhstan will participate in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018, thus making a debut in 2019 possible. On 30 July 2018, the EBU stated that the decision to invite Kazakhstan was made solely by the Junior Eurovision reference group, and there were no current plans to invite associate members other than Australia.
- Kosovo – According to EBU guidelines, Kosovo's participation in 2018 would have been possible due to Portugal recognising Kosovo as a state. Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) decided not to participate, however still broadcast the contest in 2018. Israel does not recognise Kosovo, but both states foster good relations. RTK general director Mentor Shala said that they are still pushing for full membership, and still hope to debut at the 2019 contest. They are currently still in talks with the EBU. The EBU will vote on full membership of the Kosovar broadcaster in December 2018, possibly allowing the country to debut in 2019, or in the near future after that.
- Liechtenstein – On 4 November 2017, 1 Fürstentum Liechtenstein Television (1 FL TV), the national broadcaster of the Principality of Liechtenstein, confirmed that the country were planning a debut in the 2019 contest, and that they were currently in the process of applying for EBU membership and are "in [the] process of complying all requirements". They also reiterated their intention to select the participant through a national selection process in the form of Liechtenstein Music Contest "open to any form of music". However, on 20 July 2018, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) stated that 1 FL TV have not applied for EBU membership. On 26 July 2018, 1 FL TV confirmed that Liechtenstein will not debut at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 due to the sudden death of the broadcaster's director, Peter Kölbel.
On 14 May 2018, Yaakov Litzman, leader of the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism and Israel’s former Minister of Health, drafted a letter to the Ministers of Tourism, Communications, and Culture and Sports, in which he requested that the event not violate religious laws: “In the name of hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens from all the populations and communities for whom Shabbat observance is close to their hearts, I appeal to you, already at this early stage, before production and all the other details of the event has begun, to be strict [in ensuring] that this matter does not harm the holiness of Shabbat and to work in every way to prevent the desecration of Shabbat, God forbid, as the law and the status quo requires”. According to Jewish religious law, Shabbat — the holy sabbath — is observed from just before sunset on Friday evening until Saturday night. The Saturday evening broadcast of the show, which will start at 22:00 local time, will not conflict with this. However, the Friday evening jury show and Saturday afternoon rehearsals would. Similar protests arose in the lead-up to the 1999 Israeli-held competition, but then there were fewer competing teams allowing for certain adjustments to be made to accommodate the issue. The Chairman of the EBU’s Eurovision committee, Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling, noted that he was well aware of the tension, and has plans to address it in his communications with the Israeli broadcaster.
Calls for boycott
Due to the contest being held in Israel, and potentially Jerusalem for a third time, some have expressed their discontent and called for a boycott, as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
- Iceland – Although Iceland confirmed provisional participation in the 2019 contest, 23,000 Icelanders signed a petition calling on the Icelandic national broadcaster Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV) to boycott the event. Icelandic musician Daði Freyr stated that he would no longer participate in the Icelandic national selection Söngvakeppnin and called upon RÚV to boycott the event, tweeting "We can't imagine taking part in the fun that is Eurovision with a clear conscience while the Israeli state and their army use such terrible violence against the Palestinian people." It was then announced that RÚV would stage a meeting deciding if they would boycott the event, following calls from Icelandic fans. On 13 September 2018, Iceland confirmed participation in Eurovision 2019.
- Ireland – Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha, who is banned from entering Israel due to his support for the BDS movement, stated that Ireland should withdraw from the 2019 contest due to it taking place in Israel. Sinn Féin MEP, Lynn Boylan called for a boycott via Twitter; "Israel wins Eurovision so let's make BDS more successful than ever in 2019". MEP Nessa Childers stated "Jerusalem? The mind boggles. I thought Tel Aviv". Fellow Sinn Féin member Órla Nic Biorna also expressed her discontent. The Irish Alternative called for a boycott. Irish Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan has also called for RTÉ to boycott the event, stating "Look, we don’t agree with this, to celebrate while other people are dying." Former Irish TV host Mike Murphy has also called for a boycott of the event. Irish television show The Tonight Show aired a segment in regards to Israel's right to host the contest. On the panel was a range of Irish celebrities all of whom spoke in favour of a boycott. This included members of the public. On 21 June 2018, sitting Tánaiste Simon Coveney stated that he did not believe a boycott would advance the Palestinian cause, and rejected the idea of Ireland boycotting the 2019 contest on those grounds. Sinn Féin called on RTÉ to boycott the event. On 16 August 2018 Ireland confirmed their participation in the 2019 edition.
- Sweden – The Left Party of Malmö suggested that Eurovision Song Contest should not take place in Israel, stating: "It's absolutely unreasonable for Israel to host this gigantic music contest while the occupation is in progress. We want Israel to be excluded from Eurovision on humanitarian grounds. We can not continue dancing while the persecution of the Palestinian people continues. Boycott Israel now!" Sweden confirmed provisional participation in the 2019 contest, and competed in both the 1979 and 1999 contests.
- United Kingdom – Some Liberal Democrat party supporters have called upon the party and the UK government to boycott the event, claiming that their participation would condone "outrageous human rights violations". On 19 September 2018, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) confirmed they will take part in 2019.
Notes and references
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