Tel Aviv 2019

Jon Ola Sand interview: “It’s absolutely impossible” to not work on Saturdays

The news just keeps on breaking from Israel today! Firstly, it was announced that the decision on which city would host Eurovision 2019 would be made next week. Then, it was revealed that Eilat was out of the race. This evening, KAN broadcast an exclusive interview with the EBU Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, to talk about his visit to Israel this week and how the host city race is shaping up.

The purpose of the EBU’s visit

Talking to KAN, Jon Ola Sand explained the purpose of this week’s visit to Israel:

We first visited Jerusalem. There, we spoke with the team that was in place who are very well prepared. We went to see the brand new venue, we had good meetings, we looked at the facilities and we talked about the hotel situation and the transportation.

Then, we did the same in Tel Aviv yesterday where we had a good tour of the conference centre. Now, it’s up to the EBU to take a decision where we will be [next year]. It’s a tough decision but we will take it.

Jon Ola Sand (30 August 2018)

Eilat “didn’t meet our requirements”

On the elimination of Eilat from the host city race, Sand explains:

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

Jon Ola Sand (30 August 2018)

“It’s absolutely impossible” not to work on Saturdays

With Jerusalem remaining in the race, Sand was then questioned on the demand from the capital city’s religious sector not to rehearse on Saturdays.

The only thing I can say about this is that to do the Eurovision Song Contest, you have to be able to work 24/7. This is for all of the weeks, not only the production week and the rehearsal week, but the weeks before when you build up the set design and when you adjust the venue. I regret to say that there is no way the Eurovision Song Contest can be hosted anywhere without having the possibility to work on Saturdays. It’s absolutely impossible and that’s paramount for us.

Jon Ola Sand (30 August 2018)

“The broadcaster is our counterpart, not the government”

The EBU Executive Supervisor was then asked to comment on the extraordinary media attention the contest has had in Israel since Netta’s victory and whether this was a common occurrence.

I sense it’s actually the same every year, it always creates a lot of attention in the winning country. There’s a lot of people positioning themselves who want to be part of it and have a statement about it and all of this is quite natural. But when the dust settles and when we talk to the broadcaster which is actually our counterpart at the EBU, not the government and not the city, it becomes quieter.


I follow the Israeli media and there has been a lot of speculation and discussion. Not everything has been true, I will say, but it’s quite normal. 

Jon Ola Sand (30 August 2018)

“We’re confident [every country] will come”

Finally, Jon Ola Sand was asked about the various boycott threats issued by various countries over the past few months. In particular, the Irish boycott video posted online just yesterday.

We have had no serious talk about this, especially not from our member [broadcasters]. They are all comfortable, they all believe Israel can host this very well. They have no issues travelling here, at least no one has told that to us. So, we are confident that we will be able to invite everyone here and that they will come.

Jon Ola Sand (30 August 2018)

Watch the full interview below!

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