The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was the 64th annual event and was held at Expo Tel Aviv, Pavilion 2 in Tel Aviv, Israel 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.
All of Israel's winners past and present were included in this edition in some capacity (Gali Atari, Dana International and Netta performing, with Izhar Cohen serving as the Israeli jury spokesperson for the final), as well as its first-ever participant Ilanit.
Iceland, San Marino and Switzerland returned to the final for the first time since 2014, while North Macedonia qualified for the first time since 2012. All four countries recorded some of their best results in recent years.
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 Sweden.
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.
Assi is well known for being one of the co-presenters of the Israeli selection series The Next Star for Eurovision, while Lucy was the Israeli spokesperson during the 2018 grand final.
Assi and Lucy were the main presenters of the green room located in Pavilion 1 directly adjacent to the main venue, though Bar also assisted there on occasion. All three rotated to assist Erez in the presentation of the voting results - Bar during the semifinal 1 qualifier results and the grand final televoting, Lucy during the semifinal 2 qualifier results, and Assi during the grand final jury voting.
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, and is a symbol of the stars of the future coming to Tel Aviv to chase their dreams.
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. Meaning, 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 Osíris 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 death 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 and having to pay her own way to Tel Aviv. On 25 February 2019, she withdrew as the Ukrainian representative. UA:PBC then looked to Freedom Jazz and Kazka (who placed second and third) as a possible replacement, but both acts declined the offer. Fourth-place act Brunettes Shoot Blondes stated that they would have also rejected the invitation if they were asked.
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 and voting errors
Eurovoix.com reported that members of the Belarusian jury revealed hints about the way they voted 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, wit the country's jury scores were based on an "aggregate result" made up of the combined averages of the entire allocation pot Belarus was assigned to.
On 22 May 2019, the EBU released a statement that an error had been made in the Belarusian aggregate jury results. It was revealed that the aggregate points were awarded to the bottom 10 countries in the live final instead of the top 10. Had the error not been made, Malta would have received Belarus' 12 points instead of Israel.
The points were corrected in the days following the contest, adding or subtracting points and countries switching places up or down on the scoreboard. This meant that North Macedonia was the official jury winner of the grand final instead of Sweden.
Iceland political stunt
As Hatari was receiving their televote score during the final, they displayed Palestinian flag scarves on camera, which violates the rule of political statements and elicited boos from the audience along with shock from those watching in the press center. The scarves were confiscated by members of security and the event staff, and as a result RÚV was eventually fined €5000 by the EBU. The reaction shot was replaced with the 2019 star logo and an Icelandic flag on the official contest DVD.
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 was pre-allocated to semifinal 2 as per a request from SRG SSR 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||Fire of Love (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|
|09||Serbia||Nevena Božović||Kruna||Serbian, English||Crown||7||156|
|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||10||94|
|08||Sweden||John Lundvik||Too Late for Love||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 broadcasted 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.
- Canada - OMNI Television broadcast all three shows in Canada on a 6-hour delay.
- United States - 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. All three shows were also added to the on-demand service on Netflix uncut and in their entirety as part of a deal made on 19 July 2019 with the EBU.