Eurovision 2019 to be held in Tel Aviv
Following months of speculation, European Broadcasting Union announces that next year's Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Tel Aviv and not in Israel's capital of Jerusalem; EBU’s Executive Supervisor: 'Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world's largest live music event.'
The decision comes after months of speculation regarding the location of the annual song contest, with the government initially insisting on holding the popular event in Jerusalem. But following a backlash over the US recognition of the city as Israel's capital and a subsequent fear of boycotts it dropped the demand.
The Eurovision says it chose Tel Aviv, Israel's cultural and commercial capital, because of its "creative and compelling bid."
Jon Ola Sand, the EBU’s Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, emphasized Tel Aviv’s “overall setup” was preferable over other options.
“We'd like to thank all the Israeli cities who bid to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, and although all the bids were exemplary, in the end we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world's largest live music event,” Sand stressed.
“We are excited to bring this contest to a brand new city and are looking forward to working together with KAN (Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation) to make 2019’s Eurovision Song Contest the most spectacular one yet,” he concluded.
The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality also released an official statement lauding the city’s cultural appeal.
“The city is pleased to officially announce that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Tel Aviv … The city is Israel's financial and cultural center, an international hub of art and creativity, of commerce and trade, of media and academia. It is a city that celebrates pluralism and tolerance, warmly embracing the communities that compose its unique human mosaic,” the statement exclaimed.
The statement went on to elaborate on financial benefits of hosting the event.
“According to data gathered from previous host cities—around 20,000 tourists are expected to visit Tel Aviv , which will gain an estimated of NIS 100 million in direct revenues,” it stated.
“Over the last few years, the City of Tel Aviv has invested vast resources in developing its facilities and infrastructure in order to become a first-rate destination for major international conferences and events. These efforts included the recent establishment of the Tel Aviv International Convention Bureau as well as the building of the new pavilion which will host the Eurovision finals and semifinals,” concluded the municipality’s statement.
The semifinals of the competition will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center (Gnei Hataarucha) on May 14 and 16, and the final will be held on May 18. It is estimated that the sale of tickets for the semifinals and finals will start in December.
The Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai, also released an official statement praising the EBU’s decision.
“The Eurovision is perfect fit for our city, which has been internationally acclaimed for its vibrant energy, creative spirit, its lively cultural scene and its celebration of freedom … We are convinced that will produce one of the most incredible Eurovision Song Contests ever,” Huldai concluded.
Last Sunday, over 100 artists from around the world issued a statement calling for a boycott of the event "until Palestinians can enjoy freedom."
In a letter published by the Guardian on Friday dozens of musicians, actors, filmmakers and directors said they support Palestinian artists' boycott of the contest since Israel "violates Palestinian human rights."
"Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights," the letter continues.
"We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a 'non-divisive' location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites," the letter demands.
"We are happy that Eurovision is taking place in the State of Israel and we will work with Tel Aviv in order to bring some of their many guest from abroad to Jerusalem … We are saddened that Jerusalem was not chosen despite the fact that it offered the highest standards in the world when it comes to hosting international events … Good luck to the entire State of Israel in hosting this important event," added the municipality’s statement.
Since the cancellation of the soccer match between Argentina and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the ministers involved—Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev and Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara—not to say anything that might jeopardize the endorsement of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) of the competition.
Associated Press contributed to this report.