The first official Eurovision 2019 event in Tel Aviv was held on Monday, with Mayor Ron Huldai formally receiving the traditional host city insignia from the deputy mayor of last year’s host city, Lisbon, and the contest’s semifinal allocation draw taking place.
The high-profile ceremony at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was attended by the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon-Ola Sand, the deputy mayor of Lisbon, Duare Cordeiro, and the director general of the Kan public broadcaster, Eldad Koblenz. Hosting the event were reality TV host Assi Azar and Kan presenter Lucy Ayoub, who were confirmed last week as the hosts of Eurovision itself along with Bar Refaeli and Erez Tal.
The event opened with the Portuguese capital formally handing over the host city insignia to Tel Aviv. It is a Eurovision tradition for each host city to add an iconic insignia to the key chain before handing over the entire collection of insignia to the next host city.
“I am very excited to open the Tel Aviv Eurovision events,” said Huldai, promising that the 2019 contest “will be the best show on earth, in the coolest city on earth. The slogan of the Eurovision this year is ‘Dare to Dream.’ This is a fantastic slogan for Tel Aviv-Yaffo, because this city belongs to dreamers who never give up.”
During his speech, Huldai amused the crowd by showing some musical skill himself, pulling out a recorder and playing the Eurovision theme tune — the prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Te Deum.
ראש עיריית תל אביב, רון חולדאי פותח את אירועי אירוויזיון 2019 בישראל – בדרך מקורית במיוחד. בהצלחה לכולם! pic.twitter.com/iQgsWtlhRs
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) January 28, 2019
The allocation draw then took place, determining the order of appearance in the two Eurovision semifinals due to be held at EXPO Tel Aviv on May 14 and 16. The finals will take place on May 18.
Israel has already qualified for the final by winning last year’s contest with Netta Barzilai’s song “Toy.” The five biggest financial contributors to the contest, known as the “big five” — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — also don’t have to compete in the semifinals.
The 36 other countries were divided into two semifinals. The first on May 14 will feature Slovenia, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Cyprus, Serbia, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Portugal, San Marino, Iceland, Georgia, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Greece.
The second semifinal on May 16 will feature Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Moldova, Latvia, Romania, Denmark, Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Norway, Russia, The Netherlands, Croatia, Lithuania and Malta.
The draw also determined that Israel will vote in the first semifinal along with Spain and France, and that Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom will vote in the second semifinal.
“The insignia ceremony is an important moment for the Eurovision Song Contest and an exciting celebration of the host city handover,” said the contest’s executive supervisor Jon-Ola Sand. “As the countdown continues to May, we look forward to welcoming them to Tel Aviv for Eurovision Song Contest 2019.”