Trouble in Eurovision Paradise? Will Ukraine Be Ready?

A storm is brewing in Ukraine, and fans are not happy about it. It’s no surprise that many fans have been doubtful about Ukraine as the host nation for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, however some of those doubts were dismissed as certain milestones were met, such as the theme designs and the semi-final allocation draw going smoothly. Now, in the last few days, these fears have come right back for fans, who are, and this is no exaggeration, absolutely fuming, with some even deciding to boycott Eurovision this year (and forever – although I could almost guarantee they’ll tune in to watch). So what has happened in the last few days to get people worrying?

Let’s start off with the changes to the production team. Yesterday rumours started flying around that some of the core personnel on the Ukrainian team had resigned, and with a statement now released on the official Eurovision website, we can now confirm that this is true. The executive producers of the show Victoria Romanova and Oleksandr Kharebin have stepped down, as well has the Commercial Director Iryna Asman and Event Manager Denys Bloshchynkyi. The Head of Security Oleksii Karaban also signed the resignation letter.

Here is the Official Statement from the EBU:

‘Victoria Romanova, Oleksandr Kharebin, Iryna Asman, Denys Bloshchynski and his team and Oleksii Karaban informed the EBU on 10th February that they were resigning from their roles for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The group felt they were not able to continue work on the project owing to staffing matters at UA:PBC, which the EBU cannot fully comment on.

The team have been instrumental in the planning for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and we thank them for their hard work. We have reiterated to UA:PBC the importance of a speedy and efficient implementation of plans already agreed, despite staff changes, and that we stick to the timeline and milestones that have been established and approved by the Reference Group to ensure a successful Contest in May.’

This is certainly a problem, but not something that cannot be resolved. The resignations took place on the 10th, and it’s now the 14th, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people already lined up to take these positions. If fans are thinking it’s unfortunate timing to have a change of staff, well, you’re not wrong because ideally you keep the same staff throughout the whole process, however it could have been worse as we inch closer to the contest itself. I don’t think this will be indicative of the EBU wanting to move the contest to another host at all, despite all the emotive posts left by Eurovision fans.

The other issue fans are now having is regarding ticket sales. The ticket sales have been delayed a few times now to the annoyance of the fans who intend on travelling to Kyiv, however it has now been announced that they will go on sale today, the 14th of February from 19:15 CET. There will be up to 70,000 tickets, which includes all the rehearsals and the three live shows. The price range is wide, from 8 to 500 Euros. It all sounds pretty standard, however where the fans are going absolutely nuts is the fact that the OGAE were completely snubbed, whereas traditionally, the OGAE are allocated certain tickets for their members. As someone who is not part of the OGAE just yet, I can’t claim to understand how this is affecting the diehard fans who are planning on attending. I can imagine it must be disappointing to hear, however there are still tickets available for purchase, so it’s not like the chance to attend has been pulled from under you.

The Eurovision fans are at some times admirable, and at some times deplorable. After spending this morning reading through comments, here is what I have to say. I completely understand the passion the fans have for the contest, because I’m in the same boat, however since Ukraine was announced as the host, a certain group of fans have refused to believe that the contest is able to be held in Ukraine for various reasons. At every small hiccup that the organisation team has had, fans are quick to rush in and say things such as ‘it’s going to be moved to another country’ or ‘I hope the EBU have a plan B ready’. I think this is totally unfair considering the work that has already been put into the organisation of the contest in Kyiv. The only context where I will believe these sorts of statements is if I see it come from the EBU officially, or if the contest is moved to another country, but until this materialises, which I suspect it won’t – and I hope I’m not proven wrong because I want Ukraine to have the chance to showcase the work they’ve put in to the contest – I refuse to accept these statements.

I find it sad that fans often pick at the bad, they acknowledge and attack non-issues, like the delay in choosing a host city. Isn’t it preferable that time is taken to choose a host city that is capable, rather than making a hasty decision then realising that it may not work out? I believe the delays we have seen in some organisational aspects have been due to the desire of wanting to do things correctly, rather than due to disorganisation. Of course I cannot see behind closed doors, and there is a possibility that things really aren’t going that smoothly however until these possibilities are confirmed as being serious problems, Ukraine needs to be given a fair chance to host this contest to their full potential.

I believe that the work done on the theme artwork, the stage design and the smooth broadcast of the semi-final allocation draw should be congratulated and recognised. These milestones have been met, and I believe Eurovision will be run on the dates that have been allocated for the semi-finals and final. I can understand the fears for the contest stem from passion for the contest, but statements made about boycotting the contest forever reveal an unappealing side to the Eurovision Song Contest fans.

That’s my two cents. I am not ignorant to the issues, I just want to give Ukraine the chance to create an incredible show. I know some won’t agree with me, and that’s totally ok. Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about these issues.