Eurovision contestants focus on singing, not security

A group of contestants who already held their first rehearsals on Saturday, traveled to Jerusalem on Sunday to tour the city.

Iceland's Hatari takes the stage in Tel Aviv on Sunday for its first Eurovision rehearsal. (photo credit: THOMAS HANSES/EBU)
Iceland's Hatari takes the stage in Tel Aviv on Sunday for its first Eurovision rehearsal.
(photo credit: THOMAS HANSES/EBU)
Arrivals and rehearsals for the upcoming Eurovision in Tel Aviv continued unabated on Sunday, despite the heavy violence in Israel’s South.
Several more competitors arrived in Tel Aviv throughout the day, as the second full day of rehearsals went ahead as planned. The contestants in the upcoming song contest appeared Sunday to be focused wholly on singing and preparing, and undeterred by the barrage of rockets and mortars.
Eight more countries took the stage at the Expo Tel Aviv throughout Sunday to perform their songs on the Eurovision stage for the first time. And across social media and in press conferences, the competitors were focused on the contest - and not on the security situation.
 
 
 
 
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“Morning, shalom, just woke up here in Tel Aviv and look at this weather,” said an excited Victor Crone of Estonia on Instagram Sunday morning. “I have my first rehearsal today - I’m starting to get a bit nervous, but mostly excited.”
Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke, who also held her first rehearsal on Sunday, wrote on Instagram that morning: “Hello from Tel Aviv. So much excitement right now!”
A group of contestants who already held their first rehearsals on Saturday, traveled to Jerusalem on Sunday to tour the city.
Serbia’s Nevena Bozovic posted a photo of herself on Instagram overlooking the walls of the Old City on Sunday afternoon, and followed it up with a falafel at the Mahane Yehuda market.
Einar Stefannson, a member of Iceland’s controversial group Hatari, posted a photo of himself on the Tel Aviv beach in full BDSM gear, with the caption: “resting beach face.”
 
 
Meanwhile at Expo Tel Aviv, the delegations from Belgium, Georgia, Australia, Iceland, Estonia, Portugal, Greece and San Marino held their first rehearsals. Close to half of the 40 visiting competitors had arrived in Tel Aviv by Sunday evening, while the remainder will trickle in throughout the week. The first official Eurovision event is the Orange Carpet kickoff, slated for Sunday, May 12. The semi-finals will be held on May 14 and 16 and the grand finale on May 18.
Portugal’s Conan Osiris, Estonia’s Victor Crone, Latvia’s Carousel, Sweden’s John Lundvik, Jurijus of Lithuania, Azerbaijan’s Chingiz and Luca Hanni of Switzerland arrived overnight Saturday and throughout Sunday, joining the more than dozen acts already in Israel.
At press conferences held throughout the day, the contestants were repeatedly asked how they felt about the security situation. But KAN interviewer Sivan Avrahami preempted every answer by pointing out that the country is responsible for the safety of citizens and visitors, and, on several occasions, dissuaded the competitors from answering.
In response to such a question, Georgia’s Oto Nemsadze said Sunday that: “I am here only for music.”
Paul Clarke, head of the Australia delegation, said that: “We’re very pleased to be in Israel and to perform, and we feel very confident we’re being looked after well and being secured by the people behind the Eurovision.”
 
 
 
 
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On Saturday, a member of D-Moll of Montenegro said “we actually don’t know anything about that. We are here to sing and we hope the music will beat everything.”
The head of the delegation from Georgia told KAN on Saturday that they were not concerned about the fighting.
“We are from Georgia, so we are not afraid of anything,” she said. “We know and we have information that security is at the highest in this country, so I doubt that anyone will be afraid.”
Officials in the European Broadcasting Union would not answer questions about the security situation or the potential for canceling or moving the competition. The EBU said that it “will continue to closely monitor the current situation and rehearsals will continue as normal.”