Plans for Eurovision Asia are officially dead. While the EBU recently confirmed that the American Song Contest was due to debut in 2022, Australian broadcaster SBS has confirmed that an Asia-Pacific version of the song contest would no longer be going ahead.
Australia’s Head of Delegation Josh Martin confirmed the decision to TV Tonight. He told the website, “I think it’s fair to say we’ve rescinded our rights. We spent a number of years trying to figure out how to do it and then the global pandemic came along.”
He also explained the challenge in putting the contest together in the 21st century, far removed from the original motivation behind the Eurovision Song Contest. He said, “It’s very different to the way Eurovision started post-World War Two, as a means of bringing people together. There was a real purpose in establishing it.”
Josh Martin also explained the geographical difficulties that hosting an Asia-Pacific contest posed. He said, “Eurovision Asia is difficult for a number of reasons: timezones, language barriers, all sorts of issues.”
This seemed to be the biggest hurdle for SBS. Martin said, “We tried so hard but that was one that we just could never quite pin down.”
But Martin explains, this isn’t out of the ordinary for the television industry. He explained, “It’s kind of like any TV show. You put a lot of things into development, and not all of them get up. So that was one that we could not, for whatever reason, make work.”
What was Eurovision Asia all about?
When the concept of Eurovision Asia was announced in March 2016, the excitement was huge. The contest would be another version of our beloved show but set on another continent. Fans immediately made wishlists, from Australia to Kyrgyzstan to Vietnam, hoping all of their favourite stars would participate.
However, it proved to be much less of a rose-coloured dream than anticipated. While the music industry of Asian countries is flourishing as never before, their regional political relations are fraught with difficulties. Since the initial announcement, the contest was delayed several times.
Eurovision Asia: an ambitious but troubled project
The first edition of Eurovision Asia was to be held in 2017, but it quickly appeared that this timeline was not realistic. Political tensions between the biggest potential participating countries were among the reasons why Eurovision Asia was delayed. Skim the surface and you’ll soon think about China’s contentious claims to much of the South China Sea, counter-claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and others, Hong Kong’s evolving relationship with mainland China, Taiwan’s continued conflict with China, and more.
After the release of the EurovisionAsia.tv website and a theme artwork in Summer 2017, it seemed that the contest was finally close to happening. The website soon stopped being updated and no news post has appeared since October 2017.
In 2018, SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid called Eurovision Asia “[his] one big disappointment”. On top of that, he called the contest “too geo-politically difficult”.
In 2019, following rumours that Eurovision Asia would take place in December, SBS confirmed to wiwibloggs that the show was still in development. Later that year, SBS also confirmed that its current Eurovision focus was the national final Australia Decides, not Eurovision Asia.
What do you think? Are you sad Eurovision Asia has been cancelled? Could the format still work? Tell us your thoughts below.