Contestants for the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held in Tel Aviv, are taking things in stride, despite the barrage of rockets targeting the South of Israel. On Sunday May 5th, some more hopeful competitors arrived, as the second day of rehearsals forged ahead unabated. The participating contestants came with a good attitude and are remaining focused on their task, not the precarious security situation in Israel.
As reported by the Jerusalem Post, throughout the day on Sunday eight more countries took the stage at the Expo Tel Aviv to perform their songs on the Eurovision stage for the first time. Publicity on social media and in press conferences was focused on the contest, not on the violence In Israel. Contestants conveyed their enthusiasm on Instagram. “Morning, shalom, just woke up here in Tel Aviv and look at this weather,” wrote Victor Crone of Estonia on Instagram. “I have my first rehearsal today–I’m starting to get a bit nervous, but mostly excited.” Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke, likewise shared on Instagram: “Hello from Tel Aviv. So much excitement right now!”
A group of contestants who already had their first rehearsals, spent the day Sunday traveling to and touring the city of Jerusalem. Nevena Bozovic from Serbia posed for a picture overlooking the walls of the Old City, and posting it on Instagram she went on to enjoy a falafel at the Mahane Yehuda market.
Roughly half of the 40 visiting competitors already arrived in Tel Aviv by Sunday night, and the rest will come in throughout the week. Though reporters at the press conferences questioned singers about the security situation, KAN interviewer Sivan Avrahami preempted the contestants’ responses by saying that the country is responsible for their safety. On several occasions, he even dissuaded the competitors from answering. Paul Clarke, head of the Australia delegation, said: “We’re very pleased to be in Israel and to perform, and we feel very confident we’re being looked after well and being secured by the people behind the Eurovision.” The head of the delegation from Georgia told KAN: “We are from Georgia, so we are not afraid of anything,” she said. “We know and we have information that security is at the highest in this country, so I doubt that anyone will be afraid.”
The first official Eurovision event will be the Orange Carpet kickoff, set for Sunday, May 12th. The semi-finals will be held on May 14th and 16th. The grand finale is slated to take place on May 18th.
The contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union, the world’s “foremost alliance of public service media” representing 117 organizations in 56 countries. Each year, every participating broadcaster choses one performer and song to represent their country. The 26 finalists perform live with no musical instruments. The winner is selected based on one set of votes from the jury of five music industry professionals and another set of votes from viewers at home. To be fair, viewers cannot vote for their own country.
This years the six countries automatically prequalified for the Grand Final include Israel, and the ‘Big Five’, which include France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. The winning country gets the right to host the competition the following year, as Netta won with the song ‘Toy’ in the 2018 Eurovision held in Lisbon, Portugal. The win marked Israel’s fourth victory at the singing competition. Israel also took home the trophy in 1978, 1979, and 1998.
At press conferences on Sunday, officials of the European Broadcasting Union would not address questions about the security situation or the possibility of moving the competition. The EBU said that it “will continue to closely monitor the current situation and rehearsals will continue as normal.”
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