The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality announced that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, the international song competition held annually among member countries of the European Broadcasting Union, will be held in Tel Aviv next year, and not in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem.
The European Broadcasting Union and the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) selected Tel Aviv as the most suitable city in Israel to hold the 64th Eurovision contest, calling the city “Israel’s financial and cultural center, an international hub of art and creativity, of commerce and trade, of media and academia.” The city has also been highly praised as a smart city and one that promotes diversity, and tolerance.
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“The decision was made after an extensive inspection and evaluation of the city’s amenities and facilities,” the municipality said in a statement.
Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest on May 12 for the first time in 20 years when singer Netta Barzilai “clucked her way to first place” in the 63rd year of the international song contest in Lisbon, with her female empowerment anthem “Toy.”
When she won the competition, Barzilai shouted “Next year in Jerusalem,” which Israel considers its capital and which the international community disputes.
Discussions surrounding hosting the competition in the city has sparked controversy. Though Jerusalem was the initial front-runner for hosting the content, Kan opened the bidding process to other cities in June among rumors of possible boycotts and religious protests.
The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality says the contest’s three main events will take place at Pavilions 1 and 2 at the Tel Aviv International Convention Center. The events include two semifinals, and the final event broadcast around the world. Last year, the contest was watched by 186 million viewers.
Additional events in Tel Aviv will include the opening ceremony and red carpet event at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the official Eurovision key handover ceremony at the town hall located at Bialik Square, and the world’s largest “Eurovision village” on the Tel Aviv boardwalk at Charles Clore Park.
Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 41 times since making its debut in 1973. It has won the contest four times, with the last win from Dana International with her song “Diva” in 1998. Barzilai’s victory is Israel’s fourth in the contest.