From Iceland — Iceland To Decide On Eurovision Participation After The National Competition

Iceland To Decide On Eurovision Participation After The National Competition

Published January 25, 2024

Photo by
Art Bicnick

It is uncertain whether Iceland will participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden this spring. The final decision on participation will be made after the conclusion of the national singing competition, Söngvakeppnin, in consultation with the winners, reports RÚV.

The reason for this decision is the criticism surrounding Israel’s participation in the contest.

The decision was announced following a protest on January 18 when over 500 Icelandic musicians signed a petition calling on RÚV to refuse to participate in Eurovision unless Israel is suspended from the competition.

Stefán Eiríksson, General Director of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV), stated on Rás 2 that contestants applying for the national singing competition have expressed understandable concerns about the situation and referred to the situation in Gaza. These concerns have been conveyed to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

“They [the contestants] apply with the goal of contributing to Iceland’s representation in Eurovision. They share concerns about the situation, just like us. This has been our preparation for Eurovision, and we have publicly stated that we plan to participate in Eurovision without any changes, but we don’t know what the future holds,” said Stefán.

Therefore, it has been decided not to make a final decision on participation in the final competition in Malmö, Sweden, this spring until consultation with the winner of the national singing competition in mid-March.

“To decide on RÚV’s participation in Eurovision after the national singing competition is completely new,” said Rúnar Freyr Gíslason, the executive director of Söngvakeppnin. He said the contestants who have been selected for the competition, to be announced on Saturday, could have accepted this outcome. Criticism of participation in Eurovision will certainly not go unnoticed.

Rúnar and Stefán said that after talking to colleagues, the demand to boycott Eurovision due to Israel’s participation doesn’t seem widespread. Only Iceland, Norway and Finland have decided to hold their own singing competitions before deciding on participation in Malmö.

Asked about the pressure on the winner of the national singing competition to make a decision on Eurovision, they said that there is pressure on everyone. However, it is important to emphasise that neither RÚV nor the potential contestant from Iceland shape the foreign policy.

Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, chairman of the Icelandic Composers’ and Songwriters’ Association, responded to the news. He said it is good that the national singing competition will proceed as usual; it is an important platform. “It may be time for us to realize that the national singing competition is one thing, and Eurovision is another, even though, of course, it is connected,” he said.

“It is a big decision to make, and hopefully, RÚV will take good care of the winner, whoever it may be, and support them in making the decision. This is an extremely complex matter,” said Bragi.

The songs and performers participating in Söngvakeppnin this year will be announced on Saturday, January 27.

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