The Eurovision executive board has chosen Tel Aviv to host the 2019 song contest.
Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the competition in May with her song Toy, earning it the right to host the 2019 contest. The executive board for the event, watched by 200 million people a year, said on Thursday that the Israeli public broadcaster Kan also put forward Jerusalem and Eilat as possible venues but it chose Tel Aviv as it “provides the best overall set up for the world’s largest live music event”.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said: “Eurovision is a perfect fit for our city, which has been internationally acclaimed for its vibrant energy, creative spirit, its lively cultural scene and its celebration of freedom.”
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Eurovision executive board have asked the Israeli Government to promise to grant entry to people regardless of political opinions or religion. Frank-Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Eurovision executive board, said such guarantees are “imperative” to ensure the safety of visitors and upholding Eurovision’s values of diversity and inclusivity.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reject the conditions, which are “contrary to the legislation of a democratic state,” citing that a person should not be granted entry to Israel if he or she works to harm or boycott the state.
The UK has previously hosted the Eurovision competition in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Brighton and Harrogate. In May, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism wrote to Culture Minister Miri Regev, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin asking that Sabbath laws not be violated if the contest were to be held in Jerusalem. The contest is scheduled to start on Saturday night at 10pm, only two hours after the Sabbath ends.
Israel has participated 42 times since its first appearance in 1973, with Jerusalem twice hosting the competition in 1979 and again in 1999. Israel has won the competition four times – in 1978, 1979, 1998 and 2018.