According to Israel based journalist Julien Bahloul, the 2018 runners-up Cyprus wouldn’t have the finances to host Eurovision. This comes following speculation over whether Cyprus would be the default ‘plan B’ if Israel weren’t able to host in light of the ‘deposit crisis.’
This week, the Israeli-French anchor and reporter Julien Bahloul tweeted that ‘The European Committee [the EBU] claims to be in constant contact with KAN, but warns that there is a plan B if Israel cannot pay the organization of the competition’. This ‘Plan B’ had previously been rumoured to be either Cyprus, Austria or Germany. ‘Plan B would be Austria, arriving in 3rd place. Cyprus (2nd place) would not have the means to finance the competition’, he continued.
Since the post, the ‘deposit crisis’ that had put Israel’s hosting duties in jeopardy for several weeks was finally settled. It is now more-or-less confirmed that Israel will be hosting the 2019 contest. The host city is yet to be announced, but is believed to be either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
A precedent for a non-winning country to host?
Although it hasn’t happened for almost 40 years, winning Eurovision countries have forfeited hosting duties before. Historically, five contests were hosted in countries that didn’t win the previous year (1960, 1963, 1972, 1974 and 1980). Only in 1960 did the previous runner-up end up hosting the contest.
In the other years, there didn’t appear to be much of a system in place. In 1963, the UK (who came 4th in 1962) ended up hosting after the top 3 from 1962 (France, Monaco and Luxembourg) all declined. Following their win in 1971, Monaco invited the BBC to host the 1972 contest due to its inability to provide a suitable venue and the latter’s previous hosting experience. In 1974, the BBC agreed to host after Luxemburg declined to host for the second consecutive year, although Spain were the runners-up that year.
Similarly, Israel declined to host in 1980, having already hosted the 1979 contest. The Dutch broadcaster (NOS) ended up offering to host after several other broadcasters (the BBC included) declined.
If a situation ever arose in which a broadcaster could not fulfil their requirements there are always contingency plans in place, as is normal when planning such a large event with many international stakeholders.
Could Cyprus actually afford to host?
Due to their lack of success in the contest previously, this had never been particularly pressing question. This, of course, changed once Eleni Foureira’s “Fuego” became the bookies favourite to win in the week leading up to the contest in Lisbon. Following this, commentators began to discuss the island state’s ability to host. In response, many key voices in the matter sounded rather confident that it could.
Director General of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC), Michael Maratheftis, responded positively to the possibility of them hosting in 2019:
We would be delighted, willing and able to host Eurovision if it came to it, we have already hosted the Junior Eurovision in Limassol and would be delighted to do it again!
Furthermore, contrary to Bahloul’s tweet, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades had said the following in a television interview back in May:
To allay concerns, the financial part is not an issue, the state coffers will open, and that is not something I say often.
As someone who has been waiting their entire life for Cyprus to host Eurovision, I am somewhat hopeful. Now, all they need to do is actually win.