“See you in Jerusalem next year”? Well, maybe not. Despite the Prime Minister’s early suggestion that Jerusalem would host, and more recent suggestions that hosting is a matter of “Jerusalem or not at all”, Time Out reports that at least two other Israeli cities — Tel Aviv and Haifa — are ready to make official bids.
The official bidding process for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hasn’t kicked off yet. But following unsavoury reactions to Jerusalem hosting, and ongoing controversy surrounding its international status, authorities in other cities are said to be contemplating bids.
Tel Aviv’s mayor previously ruled the city out of contention. But according to Time Out, who spoke with sources inside the Tel Aviv administration, that was merely in deference to the government and a desire to let them decide on matters. If their preferred choice of Jerusalem is removed as an option, Tel Aviv is ready to submit a bid, the magazine says.
Eurovision 2019 in Haifa?
Elsewhere, the magazine reports that Haifa is keen to snag the event.
“We have already sent a letter to the General of Ministry of Sports and Culture, expressing our intentions of competing for the Eurovision Song Contest,” the mayor of Haifa, Yoni Yahav, says.
“Haifa has all the means and it meets all the conditions for hosting the contest. It’s a peaceful city and a symbol of coexistence, and is very worthy of hosting the competition. We have the Sammy Ofer stadium, which seats 31,000 people.”
“Although it needs roofing, the municipality of Haifa would pay for the construction, and we have a train station, we have impressive hotel rooms all over the city, and we would also make sure of additional hotel rooms if needed. We have a small international airport and our transportation is active during Shabbat.”
Indeed, Haifa does meet the basic requirements of hosting — most notably having an arena that well exceeds the 10,000-person minimum, in addition to solid hotel and transport infrastructure.
The mayor’s comment on Shabbat is significant: It gives it a major leg up over Jerusalem, where members of the Orthodox community have already called on the song contest to adjust its schedule, as not to violate the holy sabbath.
As we previously reported, Yaakov Litzman, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Health and the leader of the Israeli Orthodox Party Agudat Yisrael, wrote a letter to the Israeli government, urging them to change the dates, in order not to desecrate the Sabbath, which lasts roughly from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday.
The actual grand final wouldn’t conflict with the Sabbath, as it airs after sundown. But the Friday night jury show and Saturday rehearsals most definitely would.
But isn’t Jerusalem hosting Eurovision 2019?
Recently senior officials within Israel’s Sports and Culture Ministry have given conflicting takes on Jerusalem’s presumed status as Eurovision 2019 host city.
Yossi Sharabi — the director-general of the Ministry — said that it’s not a given that Jerusalem will host. But Miri Regev, the Sport and Culture Minister, says she’ll suggest to the government that it’s “Jerusalem” or nothing.
She more recently told Time Out that her Ministry has not yet received a letter from Haifa regarding its intentions to bid.
What do you think? Is Haifa a viable option to host next year’s contest? Do you think that it would make for a less controversial run-up to Eurovision 2019? Let us know down below!