Those of you living outside of Europe will probably have never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest, and many of those living in Europe don’t actually care.
A few people do care though – enough to make it the biggest pan-European pop song contest, televised every year at a huge cost to the host nation. Last year, a cavewoman act (I kid you not) from Ukraine won and, thus, Ukraine will get the honour of hosting this year’s contest in May.
Judging by reports, so far the organisation of this year’s contest has been at best a shambles, at worst a crime.
First, the Ukrainian song for this year had to be re-written. It was a song which became popular during last year’s Orange revolution, but the Eurovision bosses deemed it too political and forced the band Greenjolly to re-write their entry or be barred from participating.
Now the organisation of the event itself is coming under scrutiny. Orange Ukraine reports that the tickets for this event – every single one of them – have fallen into the hands of a ticket scalper.
I just have to talk about the mess that is the Eurovision song contest, and which the Kyiv Post rightly excoriates here. My wife, working in the tourist business, has been reeling in horror from the madness.
On the day the tickets went on sale, March 21, (after twice being put off), neither the official Eurovision site, nor the official Ukrainian site
was working. She, and everyone else in the business she knows, tried to
access the sites and failed. A message released the next day on the
official site that all the tickets were sold in four hours, but no
response came to any of the many notices Lesya or her acquaintences
sent about the faulty site. Nor were her or their requests regarding
A few days later, the First Transnational Tourist Company of
Ukraine, a previously unknown organization, shows up with the tickets,
for sale at a markup of 500 griven ($100 or 50% on the $200 tickets). […]
Actually, the biggest question is: Why, oh why, are the opportunists
from First Transnational Tourist Company of Ukraine not in jail along
with whomever on the planning crew was complicit with them?
Plenty of people were concerned that a poor backward country like
Ukraine wouldn’t be able to run a contest of this size. Most sensible
people dismissed this as patronising crap, taking heart from the 2002 and 2003 events held in Estonia and Latvia respectively.
But now, it seems, the doubters may
have been right. The Eurovision Song Contest really is a huge event and, for some, there are huge profits to be made. If Ukraine’s government does not keep a close eye on this year’s contest to ensure that crooked companies do not benefit from it then, come this May, we could be seeing a few very red faces in Kiev.