In recent months Ukraine has faced a series of unique and high-profile challenges as it prepares to host Eurovision 2017. At times fans have wondered aloud if the contest might be taken away from Ukraine, owing to delays, financial issues and, at times, in-fighting at the state broadcaster. As the contest grows ever closer the threats remain very real indeed. In fact, Alexander Harebin, acting director of broadcaster NTU, has revealed to Ukrainian news outlet TSN that the contest could still be moved away from Ukraine. The EBU will reportedly make a decision on December 8.
It should be noted that in subsequent social media posts, Harebin suggested things will work out fine. He wrote: “While the team of NTU and the team of the EBU work and fight, and this is a struggle, a daily struggle with the system, sabotage, corruption and nepotism, all is well. We can handle it.”
But the TSN interview has still raised plenty of eyebrows, and is worthy of coverage.
The drama appears to have started when the EBU visited Ukraine back in October. At this point, NTU were three months behind schedule. That’s particularly worrying when you consider that it had only been four months since Jamala’s victory. At the time, the EBU released an “update” video highlighting the trip, with Jon Ola Sand speaking about NTU’s preparations.
Looking back on it, some of Jon Ola’s phrasing sets off red flags with Harebin’s recent revelation.
Jon Ola repeatedly mentions the “timeline” being a challenge to hold all three shows. There’s also talk about no confirmation of any venues, bar the Exhibition Centre as the main venue. He also says that the reference group expected “a lot of answers to a lot of questions” when they visited Kyiv in November.
With that in mind, the EBU gave NTU a warning at the time that the contest could be taken away due to the state of planning. Any decision on this would be made on December 8 at a further meeting with the EBU.
Harebin blamed the delays on bureaucracy and a “dismissive attitude” from some officials towards the contest. A good sign is that by the end of October, NTU had reportedly caught up on many of its tasks, and was only one month behind. Unfortunately, perhaps, this was before Harebin’s predecessor, Zurab Alasania, quit NTU. Whilst the broadcaster assured everyone that it wouldn’t delay proceedings, we’re sure that the EBU were not impressed.
At the November meeting, Jon Ola further stated that:
There are hurdles that the authorities have to look into to make sure that the project can move swiftly. It is going well, we have full confidence in NTU and the city authorities but there are still some issues that have not been solved and we are slightly concerned that time is running out. They need to speed up and they need to have the full support of the government in order to make it to the finishing line. We will follow that very very closely.
It seems then that there is indeed a real threat that Ukraine could still lose their hosting gig. We’ll be following this news very closely in the lead up to the decision on December 8.
What do you think about this threat to Eurovision 2017 and the director’s honesty about it? Should the EBU give NTU more time, or have they run out of chances in your eyes? Let us know in the comments section below!