Call it the calm after the storm: Eurovision host broadcaster KAN has finally agreed to pay the €12 million security deposit to the EBU to ensure that Israel will host Eurovision 2019. This ends the long crisis between KAN and the Israeli government which, at various points, put Israel at risk of losing its right to host the contest.
Amid the back and forth between KAN’s CEO and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the mayor of Tel Aviv quietly put in a few jabs of his own. Mr Ron Huldai criticised the government and said that it lacks a “responsible adult”, taking a swipe at the PM who had, until the very last moment, refused to end the crisis.
One man’s stubbornness is another man’s PR opportunity: Huldai offered to absorb some of the costs that KAN will incur hosting the event.
Writing on his Facebook page on Monday, Huldai said:
“Once again there is no responsible adult. Just as they drove Messi out of Israel, now they are driving away the Eurovision.”
“Eurovision is broadcast to billions of viewers around the world – regardless of the host city — and could expose Israel’s beauty for those who aren’t familiar with it.”
“The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality is ready to join the national effort and pay for the costs of the venue – a central cost of the event. Maybe it will help those who are still climbing trees instead of finding solutions.”
Eurovision Village 2019
In the meantime, the host city race is approaching its climax with the promised September reveal right around the corner. Following Huldai’s earlier pledge to fund the venue for Eurovision, he has today suggested that Tel Aviv should build Eurovision Village by the seashore. Although he was reluctant to voice his enthusiasm back in May — saying only that he’d consider hosting Eurovision if KAN approached him — he has become increasingly vocal that Tel Aviv is the best host city option.
Eurovision Village — a public space where fans with or without tickets to the contest can gather for concerts — is a focal point of the Eurovision fortnight. According to Time Out Israel, the proposed area for Tel Aviv’s Eurovillage is Charles Clore Park, which is situated in southeastern Tel Aviv on the coastline. You may recognise it from our breathless interview with Juri Pootsman ahead of Israel Calling 2016 — there’s lots of exercise equipment and stunning views of the sea.
The park was opened in 1974 and renovated in 2007. In recent years it has hosted the annual Tel Aviv Pride parties. It is also known for its yearly food markets. Huldai said that the Eurovision Village will be bigger than the one in Lisbon with many restaurants, bars and shows running during rehearsals. He also reiterated that there will be no entrance fee and that both semi-finals and the grand final will be broadcast live on its big screens.
KAN has criticised Huldai’s most recent statements. The broadcaster’s representatives suggest that they were made merely to drum up support ahead of forthcoming elections as the mayor attempts to be re-elected for a fifth term on behalf of the opposition Labour Party. They also made it clear that under the EBU rules, the host city is required to fund both the venue and the Eurovision Village anyway!
The race for hosting Eurovision is still open. As we reported yesterday, there are currently three possible host cities – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat. Curiously, a boutique hotel which is situated very close to the Jerusalem Pais Arena has been fully booked for May 2019, as reported in Time Out Israel. Is this only a coincidence? Or maybe secret co-ordination between KAN and the government implying that Jerusalem will eventually become the host city? Aie aie aie.
Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments box below!