After Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest last May, much attention was drawn to the regional climate and political nature surrounding the new host nation — which is hosting the contest for the first time in twenty years.
Although Eurovision Rule 2.6 does state the contest is to remain a ‘non-political event’, we saw several European singers sign an open letter boycotting the event, as well as instances of protests in the French and Spanish national selection shows in recent weeks.
— Bernardo Pereira (@bernardontp) January 19, 2019
According to Channel 12 in Israel, the European Broadcasting Union has responded by sending a special letter to all national delegations participating in Eurovision in Tel Aviv. It lists precautions and sets out measures participants and broadcasters can follow should they face difficulty for participating in the contest this year.
The letter is no doubt in response to recent events seen in France’s national selection. In semi-final two of Destination Eurovision, a protester invaded the stage with a message directed towards the Eurovision 2019 host nation.
Certain Destination Eurovision participants, including winner Bilal Hassani and third-placed Chimène Badi, also received criticism regarding their participation, including protests from those involved in the BDS Movement.
Badi spoke of those involved in the protest movements, saying:
“I believe that this is a minority of people and that they get confused and that they do not understand the matter.”
To ensure further protection, the EBU are asking for more thorough security during the contest in Tel Aviv. KAN, the Israeli broadcaster in charge of hosting the contest, have also stated that security is a top priority and there will be no compromises regarding that issue. According to the report above by Channel 2, they are expected to ask for government assistance with the costs of security to ensure that the 2019 contest is protected to the highest standards.
It’s not the first time that the focus of this year’s contest has shifted toward politics, boycotts and the like. Jon Ola Sand, the Executive Supervisor of the contest, reinforced the important non-political nature of the contest back in November.
“We cannot allow politics to interfere. We have been very clear about it since the beginning. The Israeli politicians also understand that any politicisation of the contest will look bad. The best way to introduce Israel to the world is to do Eurovision without any politics involved or any manipulation. People see these things instantly.”
In response to potential boycotts suggested by artists and individuals, Jon Ola Sand expressed his dismay, but also his unwavering support for the non-political nature of the contest. He sought to deter activists who aim to make a political statement.
“We do not want Eurovision to be used as a platform for any political aims. So if there is a fan who is also an activist, we do not think that this is a positive thing. We want people to come to Israel and enjoy – that’s it. There is nothing I can do about people’s perception of Israel. Whatever they think about Israel is their own opinion. However, the EBU is an organisation with clear policies — no politics of any kind is allowed. In fact, no country has announced that it intends to boycott Eurovision, and it is now a fact that Israel will host Eurovision.”
With the contest only months away, a safe and secure contest remains the highest priority – so fans, contestants and delegations can enjoy all that Tel Aviv brings. Love, love, peace, peace!
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