Eurovision head: ‘Impossible‘ to have contest without Saturday work

The European Broadcasting Union‘s Jon Ola Sand said Thursday that there is no way to host the Eurovision without rehearsals and activity held on Saturday.

"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," said Sand in an interview with Israeli public broadcaster KAN that aired Thursday evening.

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"I regret to say there‘s no way 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."

Sand‘s interview came at the end of a , which including stops in the three cities which submitted bids to host the Eurovision: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat. But by the end of the trip, Sand said on Thursday, Eilat was already out of the running.

"We discussed their proposal, which I very much appreciated because it was thinking out of the box," said Sand. "Unfortunately, we had to decline their offer because the venue they proposed didn‘t meet our requirements."

So the race is down to just Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the EBU is slated to announce the decision next week. Sand‘s comments about Saturday activity seem to indicate that Tel Aviv is the most likely option.

As KAN interviewer Shani Nachshony pointed out, many in Israel‘s religious sector have expressed concern over work being held on Shabbat. And opposition is expected to be much higher in Jerusalem, with its large religious population.

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But after ultra-Orthodox opposition in Tel Aviv earlier this month, it‘s clear that Saturday activity will be an issue anywhere.

Sand also addressed concerns about boycott attempts against the 2019 Eurovision in Israel.

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

Sand has been the Eurovision‘s executive supervisor since 2010, and worked in television for many years before that. He has fond memories of the last time the Eurovision competition was hosted in Israel. 

"I was here in Israel, and Jerusalem, in 1999, when the Eurovision song contest was hosted here the last time," he said. "It was a fantastic experience and I had a really good time."

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