The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will not necessarily be held in Jerusalem, said Yossi Sharabi, director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport.
According to Haaretz, Sharabi said that while Jerusalem is the preferred host city for the Eurovision Song Contest, “there could well be other considerations.”
“Eurovision in Jerusalem? It isn’t at all a given,” he said. “It’s early to talk about this.”
Sharabi made the comments on an interview on Sports 5 after the Argentinian national football team decided to withdraw from an exhibition match with the Israeli team. Argentina pulled out of the match after the venue was moved from Haifa to Jerusalem.
Last week, IPBC, the Israeli national broadcaster, met with the European Broadcasting Union for a preliminary discussion on the scope and expectations for hosting the contest in Israel. The two parties are expected to meet in Geneva later this month.
However, Israel’s plan to host Eurovision has courted some controversy, from IPBC’s status as an EBU broadcaster and concerns over boycotts. Problems have also arisen even within Israel, such as religious authorities’ concerns over the Shabbat.
While Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev both declared that Jerusalem would host the contest, the EBU has called their statements premature, telling fans to hold off on booking flights until a final announcement is made.
Israel has been tapped to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 after their victory at the 2018 contest in Lisbon with Netta Barzilai and her song “Toy”. Each year, the winning broadcaster traditionally gets the right to host the succeeding contest.