And then there were three. Or so goes a report published in Israel’s Walla!, which claims Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat are the only cities still in the race to host Eurovision 2019.
According to the newspaper, the northern city of Haifa, which had previously expressed an interest in hosting the event, did not submit its application by the July 18 deadline.
Walla! claims that KAN subsequently sent officials in Haifa a letter that reads as follows:
“On July 8, we held a meeting in the mayor’s office regarding the possibility of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in the city of Haifa. Both before and after the meeting, letters were sent to you from the corporation detailing the data required for the presentation so that the corporation and the European Broadcasting Union could consider hosting the competition in Haifa, including clear timetables for sending the data. The last date of delivery was July 18.”
“Since we have not received any response from you (orally or in writing), we assume that you are not interested in continuing to participate in the process. We thank you for your interest and wish you great success.”
Yona Yahav, the mayor of Haifa, made a case for his city in interviews over the summer. He cleverly distanced his city from ongoing conflicts in Jerusalem by describing it as a place where diverse communities and religious groups mingle in tranquility.
Speaking to Walla! he said: “There is no doubt that Haifa — the City of Peace — is best suited for hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, which will bring great honour to the city and contribute to the development of the economy and tourism. The Sammy Ofer stadium was built according to the highest standards in the world, using the highest technologies and is now in line with the world’s leading stadiums.”
Following the Walla! report on his city’s absent bid, he seemed confused.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he told the paper. “We did not receive any letter from the corporation. Today is a holiday in the municipality. Call me tomorrow, I’ll find out.”
He added that Haifa has not withdrawn from the race.
The ongoing confusion will only add to the belief that Tel Aviv is the front-runner to host Eurovision 2019. That feeling has been growing ever since KAN released the criteria for potential host cities.The Red Sea resort of Eilat has hotel rooms but lacks a proper venue.
Jerusalem has the venue and the hotel rooms, but may not be able to meet scheduling demands owing to Orthodox objection to Sabbath desecration.
And Haifa has its own problem. The official bidding criteria says organisers’ preference is for cities with venues that already have a roof. Sammy Offer Stadium does not.
You can read more about the hosting criteria below.