Tel Aviv Eurovision Preparations Still Underway Despite Gaza Escalation

Rehearsals began Saturday at Expo Tel Aviv, and nine of the 40 international delegations have already arrived

Workers build the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest at Expo Tel Aviv, April 15, 2019.
AFP

Despite over 200 rockets launched toward Israel from Gaza on Saturday, preparations for this month’s Eurovision Song Contest proceeded as planned.

Rehearsals began Saturday at Expo Tel Aviv, and nine of the 40 international delegations have already arrived. The remaining delegations are expected to arrive in the coming days.

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The Public Broadcast Authority confirmed these facts and said that “according to the instructions of the Home Front Command, the events are proceeding normally. Preparations by the Eurovision contestants are continuing as planned.”

In an interview with Army Radio, Sharon Ben-David, the head of Kan’s Eurovision spokesperson’s office, said that “the Home Front Command told us this morning that everything is as usual. From our standpoint, all is normal. We are continuing our routine. Rehearsals have begun; the contestants have been updated on the situation and are responding fine. We are working as usual for Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. As long as no sirens sound in the center of the country, heaven forbid, it’s just a matter of reports and updates."

Ben-David said that they don’t expect any of the contestants to cancel their appearances and she doesn’t think the escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza will deter tourists from coming to Tel Aviv. She said that from the outset the corporation prepared for all sorts of situations, including, but not only, security-related issues. “We prepared for all possible scenarios, large and small, with the professionals who work here. For months, we have prepared for these kinds of scenarios and responses."

News conferences with delegation representatives were held on Saturday morning. Cypriot singer Tamta was asked about the security situation. Event director Sivan Avraham interrupted to reply: “We are continuing as usual and this isn’t something we need to be dealing with.”

The semi-finals for Eurovision 2019 will be held on the 14th and 16th of May and the finale will be held on May 18. The contest will be aired on Channel 11.