Minsk calling! Belarus will host Junior Eurovision 2018

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It’s one of the most successful countries at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, having secured victory in 2005 and 2007, and having placed in the Top 5 on six other occasions.

And now the European Broadcasting Union is ready to honour Belarus’ achievements by letting it host Junior Eurovision in 2018.

The early announcement — which is taking place weeks before Junior Eurovision 2017 even starts — will help ease the pressures on the host broadcaster. As the EBU explained on the official Junior Eurovision web site:

“To ensure the longevity of the Contest and allow more time to prepare the event, the Junior Eurovision Steering Group decided to remove a clause in the Rules that gave the winning broadcaster first refusal to host. EBU Members were given the opportunity to apply to host Junior Eurovision 2018 and the application from Belarus was judged to be the best.”

Jon Ola Sand, the EBU’s Head of Live Events, was enthusiastic about the news. He said:

“The rule change to allow a host for next year’s competition to be chosen earlier not only gives the host broadcaster longer to prepare what is a huge production but also protects the future of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. We are therefore delighted to announce, before we gather in Tbilisi for the 2017 competition, that BTRC will be the host broadcaster of the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. BTRC’s application to host was extremely strong, and we have full confidence that they will put the same enthusiasm into the preparations of next year’s event.”

You could also say that it helps ease the pressure on the kids: Winning won’t factor into whether that country gets to host the following year.

Of course, Belarus may well have a shot of winning this year’s event. Helena Meraai — Belarus’ contestant this year — has already caused quite a stir in the fandom with her track. “Ya Samaya”.

Standing on a small raised platform, Helena delivered a mature performance that showed off her power and control. What starts off as a traditional ballad eventually morphs into a drum ‘n bass ballad with a house feel. The quickening beat gives it drive and pace — it remains child-friendly, but occupies the more mature end of the song contest spectrum.

Helena’s dramatic facial expressions and arm movements suggest she’s put a lot of thought into the overall package. With greater control of the high notes and a dramatic LED, she could be on to something big for Tbilisi.

The last time Belarus hosted, in 2010, we had the pleasure of attending and watching the event unfold live (read all about it in my account for Time magazine here). The interval included a fantastic medley of previous Junior Eurovision winners, including Maria Isabel from Spain.

We captured her magic at the afterparty as well.

Are you excited for Belarus? Will you be in Minsk? Let us know below!