Tel Aviv to host Eurovision Song Contest 2019

The Israeli government had initially requested that next year's singing competition take place in Jerusalem, but those plans faced a backlash

Tel Aviv has been selected as the host city of next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Israel won the right to host the 2019 competition following victory in this year’s contest in Lisbon, Portugal. Netta took the top prize for her song ‘Toy’, marking Israel’s fourth victory in the annual contest.

The debate over which Israeli city would host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 has created controversy ever since, especially following the government’s initial hope that the contest would take place in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted the city to stage the competition as part of the government’s ongoing campaign to have Jerusalem recognised as its capital.

There has been plenty of opposition to Israel’s hosting of next year’s competition, though, with the likes of Wolf Alice, Brian Eno and The Knife – as well as a number of previous Eurovision finalists – calling for a boycott of the 2019 contest if it is held in Israel.

However, Eurovision organisers have today (September 13) confirmed that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will take place at Tel Aviv’s Expo Tel Aviv convention centre after the city’s bid saw off competition from Jerusalem and Eilat. The final will take place on May 18, 2019.

Jon Ola Sand, the European Broadcasting Union’s Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, said of the decision: “All the bids were exemplary but in the end we decided that Tel Aviv provides the best overall setup for the world’s largest live music event.

“We are excited to bring the Contest to a brand new city and are looking forward to working together with [Israeli public broadcaster] KAN to make 2019’s Eurovision Song Contest the most spectacular one yet.”

The possibility of Jerusalem hosting the contest had been highly contentious, with the country’s culture minister, Miri Regev, having declared that Eurovision shouldn’t take place at all in Israel if it wasn’t staged in Jerusalem.

Live music events in Israel have been in the headlines over the past couple of years, with a notable instance coming with Lana Del Rey’s recent decision to pull out of a festival performance in the country.

Del Rey had faced a heavy backlash from pro-Palestinian campaigners – including Pink Floyd‘s Roger Waters – for her initial reluctance to cancel the show.

Last year, both Nick Cave and Radiohead performed in Israel – with the latter causing a lengthy row with Waters. In contrast, Lorde bowed to pressure and cancelled a scheduled 2018 show back in December.