Eurovision names Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat as possible host cities

Officials from European Broadcasting Union also open to ‘out-of-the-box solutions’ as contest organizers say pick to be made soon

Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai performs at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, on May 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
Winner of the Eurovision 2018 song contest Netta Barzilai performs at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, on May 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Senior officials from the European Broadcasting Union have toured Israel in recent days as part of the host city selection process for next year’s Eurovision, the song contest’s organizers said Wednesday.

A statement from Eurovision said the officials met with the municipal representatives of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat.

In Jerusalem, the officials saw the Pais Arena and in Tel Aviv visited the city’s convention center. They also heard a pitch from Eilat regarding the construction of a facility in the Red Sea port city that could host the contest.

The executive supervisor of Eurovision said organizers could also be open to other possibilities.

“We are open to out-of-the-box solutions, as we were in the past, if they would meet the schedule,” said Jon Ola Sand, who was in Israel along with event supervisor Nadja Burkhardt.

Eurovision later tweeted that a decision on the host city and venue would soon be made, but gave no details on when this would be announced.

Under Eurovision rules, a city must have a venue with capacity for over 10,000 spectators, be near an international airport and have thousands of hotel rooms offering different rates in order to host the contest, among other conditions.

Israeli politicians originally insisted that the competition must be held in the capital, Jerusalem. But after backlash from the organizers, who threatened that politicization could derail Israel’s hosting the contest, Netanyahu instructed his government to keep quiet on the issue.

Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12, as Netta Barzilai snagged first place with the women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”

Barzilai’s win meant Israel could host next year’s Eurovision competition — an event expected to bring thousands of fans and worldwide exposure to the Jewish state.

A spat between the Kan public broadcaster and the government over funding had cast doubt on whether Israel would host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, but a last-ditch deal reached earlier this month ensured that the popular international competition will be coming to Israel after all.

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