Czech Republic Benny Cristo First Rehearsal Eurovision 2021

Last week, news broke that one member of the Czech Republic Eurovision jury was not a Czech citizen, which could theoretically put the Czech Republic in breach of Eurovision jury rules. Now the Czech head of press has issued a statement clearing up the matter. He confirms that the EBU had already given permission to let the American-born, Czech-resident musician Tonya Graves be part of the Czech jury.

The EBU requires that all Eurovision jury members be citizens of the country they represent. After it was discovered that the American-born singer Tonya Graves was part of the Czech jury, speculation began swirling, with some wondering if her votes or the entire Czech jury’s votes might be disqualified.

The Czech Head of Press responds

However, Ahmad Halloun, the Czech Head of Press, quickly cleared up any speculation. In a strongly-worded statement on his Instagram account, he confirmed that the Czech delegation had already gained an exemption from the EBU a month prior. He wrote:

“I’m the need of addressing the polemic with the amazing Tonya Graves being a member of the Czech Republic professional jury for Eurovision 2021.

“Yes, she’s not a Czech citizen. Nevertheless, we wanted to have a set of prominent and diverse panel of music figures in our jury, showing how the Czech Republic team is taking Eurovision very seriously and working to change the image of the contest.

“She has an extensive and successful career in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. She has been a permanent citizen of the Czech Republic for more than 20 years.

“We requested an exception for this rule for her to the EBU and this exception was granted on April 16th.

“The Czech Jury votes are valid and there are no changes in the results of this year’s Eurovision.

“We encourage all media to contact us before publishing alarming and false stories.”

Tonya Graves was born in New York State but moved to Prague in 1995. There she has worked as a jazz and pop singer and actress and is well established in the Czech entertainment industry.

Czech Republic at Eurovision

The Czech Republic has competed nine times at Eurovision, with mixed results. They first qualified for the grand final in 2016, when Gabriela Gunčíková competed with “I Stand”.

In 2018, the Czech Republic earned their best result when Mikolas Josef placed sixth in the grand final with his cheeky bop “Lie To Me”. The following year, indie pop group Lake Malawi finished 11th in the grand final with their song “Friend of a Friend”.

Most recently, Benny Cristo missed out on the grand final, after placing 15th with his song “Omaga”.

Read more Czech Republic Eurovision news here

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PP77
PP77
11 days ago

If we had same situation in some ex Soviet Union countries or Balkan countries ( who are not members in EU ) the result of their jury would not be valid.

Jonas
Jonas
11 days ago
Reply to  PP77

The EU has nothing to do with it, and if there was an American living in that country for over a quarter of a century, with an exemption from the EBU allowing them on the jury… that would be fine.

Jan
Jan
11 days ago

Honestly, as a Czech guy, I have not even know that she doesn’t have Czech citizenship until now. She is famous here, speaks Czech language, and lives here. I guess the EBU rule was not supposed to restrict such people. It is good decision that exception was granted!

Alex
Alex
11 days ago

lol the whole Chechia and they couldn’t find a Czech citizen? I mean if San Marino and Malta can, i am sure they also can do it!!!

Jofty
Jofty
11 days ago
Reply to  Alex

Perhaps Martina Navratilova was busy

Jonas
Jonas
11 days ago
Reply to  Alex

It’s not that they couldn’t, it’s that they wanted Tonya. There was no good reason to keep her out.

Jo.
Jo.
11 days ago

Mr. Halloun has wonderfully slapped some faces.

Alex
Alex
11 days ago
Reply to  Jo.

Halloun was so annoying in Rotterdam, telling Susanne off for asking Benny many questions and keeping him busy while he had other interviews to do. He is so unprofessional.

Jo.
Jo.
11 days ago
Reply to  Alex

I didn’t see the video, but that sounds like a professional thing to do actually.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
11 days ago

lol what kind of non problem honestly. the ebu should be focusing on something else, like, for example, all the irregularities that took place in this year’s voting, especially the juries.

James
James
11 days ago

This was already a non-issue as the EBU granted the exemption for the Xzech jury a month before the contest.

Giolo
Giolo
11 days ago

Kirkorov left the chat

Anne Marie
Anne Marie
12 days ago

Lol, this is so ridiculous. Not even all government jobs require you to have the nation’s citizenship, why should it be stricter for the jurys of Eurovision Song Contest. She has lived in the Czech Republic for more than 25 years which should be more than enough to participate there. Also she brings great diversity and value, this is the most important thing.

Jofty
Jofty
11 days ago
Reply to  Anne Marie

But she could have been bribed by the US contestant?

Safiya
Safiya
12 days ago

I guess she must have some kind of a residence permit/residence card to live in Czech Republic. It means she does not have Czech nationality but she still lives there. And that should be totally fine. Not every foreigner has to apply for a country’s nationality to be able to live and work there.

Last edited 12 days ago by Safiya
John
John
11 days ago
Reply to  Safiya

You’re all missing the point. The reason this rule was likely instituted long ago was to prevent the appearance of bias. For example if British expats live in Spain and then award all their point to the UK as members of the jury – it would undermine credibility in the results. The idea of refugees or people outside of the participant countries was likely never considered whenever this rule was established. They could modify the rule to say that jury members can be local or not citizens of participating countries that year.

Steven
Steven
12 days ago

Off topic
Senhit posted a new video for Adrenalina #freekytriotoroderdam and at the end there is a not “I’ll be back” Yas!:)

Eugenie
Eugenie
12 days ago

Even if she’s not Czech citizen in law, she’s a Czech citizen in real life. Not everybody wants to waste their time to become a citizen formally.

Anhel
Anhel
12 days ago

“We encourage all media to contact us before publishing alarming and false stories.”
The media not publishing alarming and false stories, in this day and age? That’s preposterous. What was once known as yellow journalism is now just journalism.

Last edited 12 days ago by Anhel
Una
Una
12 days ago
Reply to  Anhel

There is “responsible” journalism and fact-checking *before* publishing. To publish something potentially damaging without checking facts first is at least unethical. *Widespread* practices can be unethical.

Anhel
Anhel
12 days ago
Reply to  Una

I know. I was being facetious.

Eugenie
Eugenie
11 days ago
Reply to  Una

Gimme one name of modern magazine doing that as an example. Can’t remember single.

Azaad
Azaad
12 days ago

If she’s a genuine permanent resident of the Czech Republic without a major connection to an ESC participating country that should be fine. I think the rule is in place more to ensure that someone like Helena Paparizou wouldn’t automatically give 12 points to Sweden if she was on the Greek jury or vice versa.

However what I find odd is that someone who’s lived in Prague since 1995 is still not a Czech citizen.

name*
name*
12 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

Some Eastern European countries have weird citizenship rules. There are Russians who are living and were born in Baltic countries (both before and after the dissolution of USSR) but still have the status of “non-citizens” and don’t have most of the basic civil rights, which is absolutely ridiculous yet nobody is talking about this issue. It’s an apartheid!

ilo
ilo
12 days ago
Reply to  name*

how is this baltic – russian story relevant to anything about czech jury?

Azaad
Azaad
12 days ago
Reply to  name*

That’s awful. Yeah the treatment of ethnic Russians in the Baltics isn’t great.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
12 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

Maybe she explicitly doesn’t want citizenship because it would make her lose her american citizenship?

James
James
12 days ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

If legal residency is the only possible path and dual citizenship is not a thing there, I can see why she chose to retain her citizenship.

Una
Una
12 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

Wooooow. Is there missing link between “Cyprus” and Sweden?

Azaad
Azaad
12 days ago
Reply to  Una

Helena Paparizou is Greco-Swedish if that’s what you mean.

Slabsson79
Slabsson79
10 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

A citizenship is rarely given automatically. You can live in a country for ages an if you do not apply for the citizenship, eventhough you would be elligible, you simply do not become a citizen. If Tonya never applied for Czech citizenship, she thus never was able to become one. And permanent residence in a Central European EU-country suits her well, than let it be…