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Eurovision 2019: Madonna reportedly in talks to perform, Tel Aviv unveils 'tent city'

Eurovision 2019: Madonna reportedly in talks to perform, Tel Aviv unveils 'tent city'

Madonna is reportedly in negotiation with organizers to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Tel Aviv in 2019, Ynet said Tuesday.

Israel won the rights to host the annual competition in 2019 after Netta Barzilai was named the winner of last year’s event.

According to the report, Madonna expressed her agreement to come to Israel, but negotiations remain ongoing over financial terms.

Netta Barzilai was name winner of the 2018 Eurovision competition with her song “Toy”, long favored to win after its trills, chicken-like clucking sounds, and lyrics embraced by the #MeToo movement made it a viral hit.

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be taking place in Tel Aviv between the 14th and 18th of May.

The event is expected to attract over 10,000 international participants. Over the last 3 years, the number of international visitors to Tel Aviv has almost doubled and is expected to reach an overall new all-time high in 2019.

On Tuesday, the Tel Aviv municipality announced the creation of a “tent city” to help the city deal with the expected influx of visitors, as over 10,000 international tourists expected.

The “tent city” will operate for a period of two months from May to June, the municipality said, as the city prepares for international events including Eurovision and the Tel Aviv Pride Parade.

“The “Tent City” will host up to 2,000 guests and will include showering areas, a recreation and party area, food and beverages stalls and a bike rental spot,” the city announced. “A shuttle service will be available from the camping area to the Eurovision Village; the main Eurovision entertainment venue located at Charles Clore Seaside Park.”

Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai lauded the efforts of the city to prepare for the international events.

“The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality is planning to host an extraordinary Eurovision experience for the thousands of tourists who are expected to visit Tel Aviv. The ‘Tent City’ is just one example of the many initiatives we are working on, in order to create the perfect tourist experience and make sure that visitors can enjoy everything that the city has to offer."

Mired in controversy

Israel won the rights to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest after chanteuse Netta Barzilai won the 2018 competition with her bassy #MeToo anthem “Toy”. Since then, Israel’s hosting of the 2019 has been riddled with controversies and political squabbles.

A financing dispute between country's finance ministry and state broadcasters Kan had threatened to tank the event altogether, but a last-minute compromise on financing saved global spectacle.

Kan agreed to take a reported 50 million shekel ($13.5 million) loan to cover the cost of staging the event, with the Ministry of Finance securing the loan in case of a cancellation due to extenuating circumstances such as earthquake, war, or a boycott organized by Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A number of lawmakers had also spoken out in recent months on the issue of allowing contest events to be held on Saturday allowing contest events to be held on Saturday, in violation of Jewish Sabbath laws.

During negotiations, it was reported that the heads of the European Broadcasting Union had placed a number of demands on Israel to be allowed to host the contest, including that events be allowed to be held on Saturday -- the Jewish day of rest -- that Israel grant freedom of the press and expression for all participants and delegations, and that all participants be allowed entrance to the country regardless of political beliefs.

The latter demand came in the wake of a wave of recent controversy over Israeli authorities’ refusal to allow entry to two prominent US writers, who are also vocal critics of the Israeli government.

"We are expecting to receive guarantees from the Prime Minister this week in regards to the security and freedom of movement of anyone coming to the event. These guarantees are imperative in order for us to move forward with the planning of the event to ensure the safety of visitors and upholding the Eurovision Song Contest values of diversity and inclusivity,” Frank-Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group said Thursday.

There has also already been considerable backlash against the event by proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In September, over one hundred artists including former Pink Floyd front man and prominent BDS proponent Roger Waters, film director Len Roach and British comedian Alexei Sayle, published a letter in Britain's The Guardian newspaper calling for a boycott of the Israeli-hosted contest.

"Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights," said the letter, signed mainly by artists from Western Europe.

Eurovision was first held in 1956 with the aim of uniting Europe after World War II. Israel and Australia are the only two non-European nations that participate in the annual contest.

This will be Israel's third time hosting the spectacle since its first entry in 1973. Israel previously hosted the event in Jerusalem in 1979 and 1999 following wins by Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta in 1978 and trans performer Dana International in 1998.

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