Eurovision 2019: Jon Ola Sand sheds more light on ESC preparations in Israel

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani 1,612 views

KAN, the 2019 Eurovision host broadcaster, interviewed Mr. Jon Ola Sand (EBU Executive Supervisor) in the lead up to the 2019 Eurovision host city deliberation. Mr. Sand shed more light on the ongoing Eurovision preparations in Israel, Shabbat, the alleged boycott of countries,the host city bidding process and the mediatic speculation surrounding the upcoming event.

KAN’s well respected journalist Ms. Shani Nachsony met up with Mr. Jon Ola Sand in Tel Aviv during his visit to Israel and had a chance to have a tete a tete where he revealed many details on the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest preparations and host city bidding.

Mr Sand and Eurovision

Mr. Jon Ola Sand has been the Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor since 2011, but has been very much involved in the competition before as he has been the Norwegian Head of Delegation and was the executive producer of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo. Sand has also been responsible for the Norwegian national selection Melodi Grand Prix in the past, having worked many years at the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK prior to his EBU position.

He travelled to Jerusalem in 1999 for the Eurovision Song Contest, which he said was an amazing experience.

Jon Ola Sand commented:

I was here in Israel, and Jerusalem, in 1999, when the Eurovision Song Contest was hosted here the last time. It was a fantastic experience and I had a really good time here in Israel.

The host city bidding process

Jon Ola Sand visits the Pais Arena in Jerusalem (photo credit: EBU)

During the interview Mr. Sand was asked about the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest host city process to which he responded that the EBU delegation first visited Jerusalem and met up with the city’s team, whom he described as very well prepared. The EBU officials visited the brand new venue (Pais Arena) and its facilities, and held meetings with Jerusalem’s officials in order to discuss the city’s hotels and transportation.

He said the same was done in Tel Aviv where the EBU team visited the Conference Centre and met up the city’s officials and represenatives.

Regarding Eilat Jon Ola said that the city’s team came to Tel Aviv to meet the EBU and present their bid. Eilat is now out of the race leaving two cities in the host city battle; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Jon Ola Sand commented about Eilat’s bid:

We discussed their proposal, which I very much appreciated because it was thinking out of the box. Unfortunately, we had to decline their offer because the venue they proposed didn’t meet our requirements.

Sand went on to say that it’s now up to the EBU to take the final decision, which is going to be a tough call!

The Shabbat issue

Ms. Nachsony brought up the Shabbat issue during the interview and asked Jon Ola Sand if he was aware about the demand coming from the religious sector in Israel not to rehearse on Saturdays, an issue that could interfere with the rehearsals in Jerusalem.

Jon Ola Sand responded:

To do the Eurovision Song Contest, you have to be able to work 24/7 for all the weeks, not only the production week and the rehearsal week but the weeks before when you build up the set design, when you adjust the venue.

I regret to say there’s no way the Eurovision Song Contest can be hosted anywhere without having the possibility to work also through Saturdays. It’s absolutely impossible and that’s paramount for us.

Calls for boycotting Eurovision in Israel

Ms. Nachsony addressed the alleged calls for boycotting the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel specifically coming from Ireland. She asked Jon Ola how was  the EBU dealing with the boycott issue, to which he responded:

We have had no serious talk about this, and especially not from our members. They’re all comfortable, they all believe that Israel can host this very well, they have no issues travelling here.

At least no one has told that to us, so we are confindent that we will be able to invite everyone here, and that they’ll come.

Speculation and mediatic frenzy

The interviewer commented about the mediatic frenzy and speculation that has sparked in Israel since Netta won the competition last May. There has been much fuss in the local media regarding the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest with fresh rumours and reports emerging every week.

Jon Ola Sand responded that this happens every year in the winning country:

I sense it’s actually the same every year. It always creates a lot of attention in the winning country, there are a lot of people positioning themselves, would like to take part of it and have a statement about it and all this is quite natural.

But when the dust settles, and we get to to talk to the broadcaster, which actually is our counterpart, it’s not the government, it’s not the city, we talk to the broadcaster.

I have followed the Israeli media and yes there has been a lot of speculation, discussion, not everything has been true, I must say. But it is quite normal.


You can watch Jon Ola Sand’s full interview below courtesy of KAN/ IPBC:

Israel will be hosting Europe’s favorite television show for the third time in Eurovision history, having welcomed the Eurovision bandwagon twice in Jerusalem (1979 and 1999).

Then there were two

Initially a total of three cities submitted their respective bids to KAN in order to host the forthcoming 2019 Eurovision Song Contest: Eilat, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Yesterday KAN announced that Eilat had dropped out of the host city bidding race, leaving Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the running.

This week saw EBU’s officials travel to Israel in order to inspect the potential Eurovision host cities and venues and check out the preparations for the upcoming ESC edition. They held meetings with KAN officials and representatives from Eilat, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


Host city deliberation next week

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest dates and host city are expected to be unveiled next week according to KAN/IPBC.

Israel will have the honour of hosting the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest thanks to Netta‘s extraordinary Eurovision victory last May.