SVT: We want Europe to come together for Eurovision
After a turbulent year in the EU, public broadcaster SVT hopes to reunite the continent for a few days when Stockholm hosts the 61st Eurovision Song Contest this May.
Stockholm is now officially the host city of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest after the so-called host city insignia was handed over from Vienna's Executive City Councillor for Cultural Affairs to the mayor of Stockholm Karin Wanngård at a ceremony at City Hall Monday.
The festivities will take place during the third week of May this year, with the first of the two semi-finals on the 10th and the second one on the 12th. Sweden, along with the so-called 'big five' countries Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom are all automatically qualified to the grand final on the 14th.
The theme of this year's music competition is 'Come Together', and Martin Österdahl, Executive Producer at SVT, says that it symbolises the true meaning of the competition.
"The original idea about the contest is great. It is all about sharing a message of unity for one night. I think this year, with everything that's happened, it is especially important to put everything aside for one night and come together in front of the television or in Stockholm and celebrate the many great things about this continent," says Österdahl.
This is the third time that Stockholm hosts the event. Three years ago, after Sweden's Loreen had won with the song Euphoria, the contest was held in Malmö in the south, and contrary to what many first thought it turned out to be a big economic boost for the city. According to a report commissioned by the city, the spike in tourism brought in a total of SEK 185 million, which is 160 more than the city spent on the event. This year, the actual competition will take place in Stockholm's famous Globe arena, but fans without tickets can follow the acts in Kungsträdgården in downtown Stockholm, where the city will have an outdoor festival area called Euro Village.
Following the reports about sexual harassments and assaults at the youth festival We Are Stockholm at the same venue, mayor Karin Wanngård says that public safety is a top priority.
"Sexual harassment is nothing new and it is something that we struggle with at all festivals that are held in open areas. Openness and democracy are both important, but we will have high security and not tolerate any harassment. We will do everything in our power to fight that," Wanngård says.