It’s one of only two countries who have participated at every prior Junior Eurovision. But there’s silence from Belarus‘ broadcaster BTRC regarding its participation in the upcoming 2020 edition of the junior song contest.
Earlier in the year, the broadcaster promised that “no later than 24 August”, an internal jury would select up to 15 acts to compete in the national final to select Belarus’ representative for Junior Eurovision 2020. However, that deadline has come and gone with no news from the broadcaster.
The lack of progress on Junior Eurovision comes amid substantial at BTRC. After the recent troubled presidential election, a large number of staff at the broadcaster went on strike. Since then, many staff — including popular TV hosts — have quit working for the broadcaster.
Since the strike, the only original material the broadcaster has produced is news broadcasts, which are made with the help of Russian media workers.
BTRC’s older statement on its Junior Eurovision participation also sounded some uncertainty regarding the pandemic and its impact on the world. The broadcaster said it would confirm the format for choosing its act for Junior Eurovision — and indeed its final decision on participation in the contest — no later than 7 September.
Belarus’ history at Junior Eurovision
While Belarus doesn’t have the strongest track record at the Eurovision Song Contest, its history at Junior Eurovision is much more impressive.
Belarus made its Junior Eurovision debut in 2003 — the inaugural edition of the contest. Since then it has participated in every subsequent edition, a record only matched by the Netherlands. Belarus has even competed at Junior Eurovision one more time than it has competed at Eurovision.
The Eastern European country has also won Junior Eurovision twice, in 2005 and 2007. It’s also grabbed podium finished with second place in 2006 and third-place finished in 2011 and 2013.
Belarus has also hosted Junior Eurovision twice — once in 2010 and another time in 2018. Unlike Eurovision, the Junior Eurovision hosting rights do not automatically go to the previous year’s winner.
Junior Eurovision participation is a big deal for Belarus, so non-participation would be a huge decision for the broadcaster.
A year of pandemic withdrawals
It hasn’t been smooth sailing in the lead-up to Junior Eurovision 2020.
With four countries — Ireland, North Macedonia, Australia and Wales — withdrawing from Junior Eurovision 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns, the question remains whether countries will have to make the same decision regarding their participation in Eurovision 2021.
Earlier in August, a spokesperson from the Portuguese delegation told Eurovision media, “if there is a competition, RTP will be present”. The working of the statement implied that in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Junior Eurovision 2020 still isn’t a done deal.
Portugal’s “confirmation” leaves 13 countries that have provisionally confirmed their intention to participate in the contest. This includes Germany, which will be making its debut. Fans are still waiting on the 2019 participants Albania, Armenia and Italy to confirm their participation for 2020.
It is important to note that the four withdrawing nations have only confirmed their non-participation at Junior Eurovision 2020, not total withdrawal from all future editions of the contest.
Junior Eurovision 2020 is scheduled to take place in Warsaw, Poland on 29 November. If it does go ahead as intended, we can expect a show unlike any that’s gone before. It should also act as a testing ground for both the EBU and participating broadcasters on how to best organise Eurovision itself in 2021.