Iceland Delays Eurovision Decision Amid Gaza Concerns Skip to content
Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma
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Iceland Delays Eurovision Decision Amid Gaza Concerns

RÚV has decided to postpone its decision on Iceland’s participation in Eurovision until after the national Song Contest concludes and in consultation with its winner. The decision follows protests related to Israel’s participation in Eurovision amid the Gaza conflict.

Decision deferred

RÚV has decided to sever ties between the Song Contest — an annual music competition determining the country’s representative for Eurovision — and Iceland’s participation in Eurovision. The Song Contest will go ahead as usual, but the final decision on Iceland’s participation in Eurovision will not be made until after its conclusion and in consultation with the winner. The reason for this decision is criticism that has arisen over Israel’s participation in the contest, despite the conflict in Gaza.

Concern among contestants

In an interview with Síðdegisútvarpið on Rás 2, Stefán Eiríksson, director of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV), stated that those contestants entering the Song Contest are understandably concerned about calls to boycott Eurovision in light of the conflict in Gaza. These concerns have been communicated to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). In light of this, RÚV has decided to defer its final decision on participation in Eurovision — held in Malmö, Sweden, this spring — until a winner has been announced.

Read More: Daði’s Eurovision is 2020

“Under this new arrangement, contestants will still apply with the goal of participating in Eurovision on behalf of Iceland,” Stefán remarked. The decision on whether or not Iceland will participate in Eurovision will then be made in consultation with the winner, which means that whether or not Iceland will participate in Eurovision will not become clear until mid-March.

“The contestants, like us, are concerned about the situation that has arisen. The Song Contest has been our way to prepare for Eurovision, and we have previously announced our intentions to participate in Eurovision like before. We do not, however, know what the future holds,” Stefán stated.

A completely new approach

“Deciding on RÚV’s participation in Eurovision after the Song Contest concludes is completely new,” Rúnar Freyr Gíslason, executive director of the Song Contest, remarked. He stated that contestants who have been selected for the competition, and who will be revealed on Saturday, have accepted this compromise. Criticism of participation in Eurovision certainly has not gone unnoticed by them.

Rúnar and Stefán also noted that, following conversations with their colleagues abroad, the demand for boycotting Eurovision due to Israel’s participation does not seem to be widespread, with the exception of Iceland and Norway. Like Iceland, Finland is also planning on hosting its national Song Contest before deciding whether or not to participate in Eurovision.

When asked whether this wouldn’t place undue pressure on the winner of the Song Contest, i.e. to decide on Eurovision participation on behalf of the nation, Rúnar replied that there was “pressure on everyone.” However, he added, it was important to emphasise that RÚV did not shape foreign policy — and much less so a potential Icelandic contestant in Eurovision.

“A huge decision to make.”

Reacting to the news, Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, chairperson of the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists (FTT), observed that it was good that the Song Contest would go ahead as usual; it is an important platform.

“Perhaps it’s time to remember that the Song Contest is one thing and Eurovision is another, even though they are obviously interconnected.”

When asked about the pressure placed on the winner of the competition, given that Iceland’s participation in Eurovision is a matter close to many hearts, Bragi stated that he hoped RÚV would provide ample support to the person in question:

“One does worry a bit about what that pressure will be like and what the situation will be then. It’s a huge decision to make and hopefully, RÚV will support the winner well, whoever it may be, and assist them in making a decision. This is an extremely complex issue.”

As previously noted, it will be revealed on Saturday which songs and performers will participate in this year’s Song Contest.

This article was updated at 10:06 AM.

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