The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was the 64th annual event and was held in Tel Aviv, Israel at Expo Tel Aviv, Pavilion 2 thanks to Netta Barzilai's win the previous year in Lisbon. The official dates were 14 and 16 May 2019 for the semifinals, with the grand final on 18 May 2019.
41 countries participated, Bulgaria decided to withdraw citing financial issues. Ukraine later withdrew due to difficulties in finding a replacement act for their national final winner (see "Incidents" below).
It was widely suspected that it would be a two-horse race between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to become the host city. Eliat was also considered but dropped out of the race on 30 August 2018. This was the very first contest to be organized by Israel's new public broadcaster IPBC (KAN) since it began operations in mid-2017.
Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands was crowned the winner with the song Arcade, giving his country its 5th win overall and its first in 44 years. Rounding out the top 5 were Italy, Russia, Switzerland and Norway.
San Marino and Switzerland returned to the final for the first time since 2014, while North Macedonia made its first appearance since 2012. All three countries recorded some of their best results in recent years.
Like the previous year, the 2019 contest featured a quartet of presenters and were revealed on 25 January 2019. They were model Bar Refaeli and Israeli TV personalities Erez Tal, Assi Azar and Lucy Ayoub.
Erez and Bar handled the main presenting duties, while Assi and Lucy hosted the green room which was housed in Pavilion 1 directly adjacent to the main venue.
The theme of the 2019 contest is Dare to Dream. The slogan itself focuses on unity, diversity and confidence. As Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand said about the theme:
"This aspirational tag line represents and symbolizes everything that the Eurovision Song Contest is about. It’s about inclusion. It’s about diversity. It’s about unity. Being on that stage, daring to dream you can win the Eurovision Song Contest, be brave enough, be confident enough, standing there performing for a world audience is something that is worth the dream."
The theme art, unveiled on 8 January 2019, consists of three triangles that, when they come together, form a glowing star. It is inspired by Florian Wieder's stage design for the event.
The concept of the 2019 postcards is "Dancing Israel". Each participant is shown visiting a different location in Israel where they stop to touch a triangle on the screen. They are then invited to perform a style of dance with the people they meet.
A twist was announced for the revealing of the grand final voting results. The jury result and the counting and combining of televotes would take place the same way as the last three years, however the televotes would then be awarded to countries according to their placement in the jury rankings. For example, the country placed last with the juries would receive their televote score first and so on with the country ranked first receiving their points last.
Calls for Boycotts
After the 2017 final, the Lord Mayor of Dublin said that Ireland should not participate in the 2019 contest due to the fact that it is being held in Israel (specifically in Jerusalem if it is chosen as the host city), also citing the "horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people needs to be highlighted." Ireland previously competed both times Israel hosted in 1979 and 1999. Additionally, the Left Party of Malmö in Sweden also called for the boycott of the event for the same reasons, saying Israel should be excluded from Eurovision "on humanitarian grounds." Iceland's participation was in jeopardy when a petition with over 22,000 signatures circulated in the hopes that the national broadcaster would not participate in the 2019 contest. All three countries since confirmed their participation.
A number of European and international members of the arts community including a few within the Eurovision circle signed a collective letter urging the EBU to pull hosting of the 2019 event from Israel - among them musician Roger Waters, who sent out pleas to Portuguese representative Conan Osiris and Australian representative Kate Miller-Heidke to "stand on the right side of history" and withdraw from the event. In response, Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand stated that the contest should not be used as a platform for political aims and expressed his support for the event's non-political nature.
Coinciding with these events, supporters of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement converged on the contest's social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter along with those of many of the participating artists and broadcasters, trying to coerce fans to boycott the contest (by either not watching the event on TV/internet or live in the venue) and artists to withdraw their participation due to escalating tensions in Gaza. Their actions also involved invading the stage during the second semifinal of the French selection and protesting outside the venues of the Spanish, German and Danish finals. Protests were also held outside the headquarters of several participating broadcasters including RTÉ in Ireland and the BBC in the United Kingdom. The BDS branch in Australia organized similar protests using the SBS logo in their promotional material. SBS later served BDS Australia with a cease and desist order for unauthorized use of their branding for the movement's purposes.
Following threats sent to Bilal Hassani and Chimène Badi by the BDS movement during the French national selection, the EBU, according to Israel's Channel 2, sent letters to all participating countries outlining measures to ensure artists' and delegations' safety and security during the contest. Additionally, KAN is expected to ask for assistance with security costs from the Israeli government, which was later granted.
Ukraine was to have been represented by the artist MARUV with the song Siren Song. However, following the Ukrainian national final, the Ukrainian broadcaster gave MARUV an ultimatum regarding upcoming performances in Russia. Later, MARUV refused to give into a list of demands in the contract drafted by UA:PBC which included stiff financial penalties for any broken rule. On 25 February 2019, she withdrew as the Ukrainian representative. UA:PBC then looked to Freedom Jazz, Kazka and Brunettes Shoot Blondes (who placed second, third and fourth), but all three acts declined the offer.
On 27 February 2019, UA:PBC announced that Ukraine would withdraw from the 2019 contest, but would still broadcast the event.
Dismissal of Belarusian jury
Eurovoix.com reported that members of the Belarusian jury revealed their votes during the first semifinal jury show. Under the rules set for national juries by the EBU regarding confidentiality and impartiality, all five jurors were dismissed and barred from voting in the grand final. The country's jury scores were determined by an "aggregated result".
As Hatari was receiving their televote score, they displayed a Palestinian flag banner on camera, which violates the rule of political statements. The EBU will make a decision on punishment or sanctions related to this incident in due time.
The semi-final allocation draw was held on 28 January 2019 at Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and hosted by Assi Azar and Lucy Ayoub. The insignia handover ceremony took place before the draw began, officially beginning the countdown to the contest.
The pots were as follows, calculated by the EBU's voting providers Digame and based on voting patterns over the past 14 years:
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4||Pot 5||Pot 6||Finalists|
| Israel (Host)|
- Switzerland has been pre-allocated to semifinal 2 as per a request from SRF due to scheduling conflicts involving the airing of a World Hockey Championship match on the day of SF1. It was approved by the Reference Group.
|Nevena Božović||2013 (with Moje 3)|
Semi Final One
|03||Finland||Darude ft. Sebastian||Look Away||17||23|
|04||Poland||Tulia||Pali Się||Polish, English||It's on fire||11||120|
|05||Slovenia||Zala & Gašper||Sebi||Slovene||Yourself||6||167|
|06||Czech Republic||Lake Malawi||Friend of a Friend||English||--||2||242|
|07||Hungary||Joci Pápai||Az én apám||Hungarian||My father||12||97|
|10||Belgium||Elliot Vassamillet||Wake Up||English||--||13||70|
|11||Georgia||Oto Nemsadze||Sul tsin iare||Georgian||Keep on going||14||62|
|12||Australia||Kate Miller-Heidke||Zero Gravity||English||--||1||261|
|13||Iceland||Hatari||Hatrið mun sigra||Icelandic||Hate will prevail||3||221|
|15||Portugal||Conan Osíris||Telemóveis||Portuguese||Mobile phones||15||51|
|16||Greece||Katerine Duska||Better Love||English||--||5||185|
|17||San Marino||Serhat||Say Na Na Na||8||150|
Semi Final Two
|04||Switzerland||Luca Hänni||She Got Me||4||232|
|06||Romania||Ester Peony||On a Sunday||13||71|
|07||Denmark||Leonora||Love is Forever||English, French||10||94|
|08||Sweden||John Lundvik||Too Late for Love||English||3||238|
|10||Croatia||Roko Blažević||The Dream||English, Croatian||14||64|
|12||Lithuania||Jurijus||Run with the Lions||11||93|
|14||Albania||Jonida Maliqi||Ktheju tokës||Albanian||Return to the land||9||96|
|15||Norway||KEiiNO||Spirit in the Sky||English, Northern Sami||--||7||210|
|16||The Netherlands||Duncan Laurence||Arcade||English||1||280|
|17||North Macedonia||Tamara Todevska||Proud||2||239|
All countries voted. The final took on 18 May 2019. Israel's place in the running order was decided during the Head of Delegations meetings in March 2019.
- Andorra - RTVA confirmed on 19 May 2018 that Andorra would not participate in 2019, nor would they participate in any EBU events in the foreseeable future.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina -The EBU confirmed on 25 May 2018 that Bosnia and Herzegovina would not participate in any EBU events in the foreseeable future due to massive outstanding debts owed by BHRT, and will not air the 2019 contest.
- Bulgaria - Despite a preliminary confirmation, BNT announced on 15 October 2018 that Bulgaria would not participate in 2019 due to financial issues.
- Kazakhstan - On 31 July 2018, the EBU said that it had no plans to invite Kazakhstan to debut in 2019 despite debuting at JESC 2018 in Minsk. On 23 November 2018, Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand confirmed that Kazakhstan will not debut in 2019. On 12 May 2019, Khabar Agency announced that it will air all three shows.
- Kosovo - RTK is currently in talks with the EBU regarding the member application process, however the country is still classified as a non-member state of the ITU, which under EBU statutes is a requirement for active membership. RTK will air the 2019 contest
- Liechtenstein - 1FLTV confirmed on 26 July 2018 that Liechtenstein will not debut in 2019
- Luxembourg - RTL confirmed on 21 July 2018 that Luxembourg will not return for 2019.
- Monaco - TMC confirmed on 17 August 2018 that Monaco will not return for 2019.
- Slovakia - RTVS confirmed on 2 June 2018 that Slovakia will not return for 2019. However, it will broadcast the final on Radio_FM.
- Turkey - In an interview with the Turkish Prime Minister, he claims that Israel's victory in Lisbon was "planned" and that Turkey has no plans to return to the contest in the foreseeable future.
- OMNI Television broadcast all three shows in Canada on a same-day delay.
- Logo TV confirmed that it would not air the contest in the United States. The final was broadcast on Massachusetts radio station WJFD 97.3 FM with commentary by Samantha Ross, ESCInsight's Ewan Spence, and Wiwibloggs' Bernardo Pereira.