With rehearsals starting tomorrow morning, it feels weird that I am not already on my way to the airport. I have been going to the Eurovision Song Contest every year since 2003, but this year I am staying home. Though I need a break, I have mixed feelings about it.
In the past weeks, Facebook has been busy reminding me of memories from X years ago with me packing my suitcase for Eurovision, checking into various airports and also me with my EuroVisionary team mates at the press centre. I have made such updates in late April or early May every year through so long that it feels awkward not to make any this year. Now I am just seeing so many of my friends make them. A lot of them started their journey towards Tel Aviv yesterday or today, some will do so tomorrow.
After so many years, it is a strange feeling not to be going. Tomorrow, when rehearsals and press conferences start, it will be even weirder. I feel like shouting; “hey, wait for me, I will be on the next plane”. But I won’t. I know that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place without me.
2003 was my first Eurovision year – and 2018 won’t be my last. This is a break, not a stop. At least that’s how I imagine things. I can’t imagine that I have covered my last rehearsal from the press centre, been to the last press conference, conducted my last interview… no, I will be back.
The decision to take a break is not directly related to Israel and their politics. Admitted, the desire I had when I was younger to visit the country has been gone for years. Israel is not a country I want to visit, but nor was Azerbaijan in 2012 or Ukraine in 2017, and I still went. The wish to take a break came already during the weeks in Lisbon last year. When it stood clear that Israel had won, it just confirmed what I had already been thinking about; that 2019 would be without me.
Many of my Eurovision friends are on their way to Tel Aviv, but I am not the only one staying home. Accreditations have been a nightmare this year, and so many international media like us at EuroVisionary have experienced dramatic cuts this year. We have been cut from five to two accreditations with no other reason than “higher demands than usual”. They have used the same excuse year after year, so honestly, I don’t buy it. I think the have lowered the capacity significantly – and for some reason, they are afraid to say so. But we’ll see tomorrow when people in the press centre can tell us.
The “high demand” for accreditations further confirmed that I made the right decision to stay home this year. Had I taken one of our two accreditations, I would have pressured myself to do more than I can – and my health isn’t the best at the moment. I do love the work at a Eurovision Song Contest. It’s fun, enjoyable – but also hard work. Eurovision isn’t a holiday – it’s two weeks of hard work, but we do it because we enjoy it. I know I could have contributed a lot to our coverage in Tel Aviv, but I can not at the moment work 12-14 hours a day for 15 days – and that’s what it would have been like, had I gone to Tel Aviv with just one more colleague.
I will be watching the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest from my own living room with the Danish commentator Ole Tøpholm trying to sound like a better expert than me – instead of from the press centre with more than 1000 other fellow Eurovision “experts”. It will be weird – and I will miss the buzz – but I will come back even stronger. Maybe already in 2020 wherever it may be.
Though it will be without me, I am confident that our team in Tel Aviv will do a good job. Stay tuned as they will bring you great coverage from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. I can’t believe, it starts tomorrow morning!