Where are they? 2016’s absent countries

by Richard West-Soley 51 views0

In the heat and excitement of final day, it’s easy to forget that not all fans have had a home entry to cheer on at the 2016 event. Here, we take a look at a couple of this year’s missing countries, and recap some of the events that led to these sad gaps in the running order.

Portugal

Participating since 1964, Portugal has been absent from the Eurovision line-up just a handful of times. Most recently, in 2013, broadcaster RTP cited financial reasons in their decision not to take part. After a bruising couple of years since then, with the country failing to make the 2014 or 2015 final, RTP took the decision to sit out the 2016 contest with an eye to returning in 2017.

Romania

After a shaky start in its early years of participation from 1994, Romania turned into one of Eurovision’s powerhouse countries of the noughties. With an unbroken qualification record since the semifinals were introduced, and two third places at Eurovision Song Contest finals, the country enjoyed a strong presence throughout the contest’s most recent period.

However, following the non-payment of historical debts, the EBU made the decision to withdraw all member services from the country’s national broadcaster in April. This, of course, meant automatic disqualification for the already selected participant, Ovidiu Anton, which led to an outpouring of fan sympathy for the artist. Whether the situation will be resolved in order to compete in subsequent contests, under national channel TVR or another broadcaster, is still unclear; in the meantime, TVR will not even be able to broadcast the contest, having lost those rights along with other services.

Turkey

Winner of the 2003 contest, Turkey, announced its withdrawal from the event in 2013, and has not taken part since. Two years after Turkey failed to pass through the semifinal for the very first time, Turkish broadcaster TRT took issue at their perceived unfairness of the 50/50 jury-televote scoring split, introduced in 2009. Puzzlingly, Turkey had otherwise enjoyed excellent results since Sertab Erener took the contest home to Istanbul, and just the year before withdrawal, Can Bonomo had achieved a top ten placing for the country.

Commentators, nonetheless, point at the increasingly conservative state, at odds with the more liberal values of Eurovision, as the reason for continued non-participation. This was fuelled by claims that the 2013 participation was cancelled following concerns over the Finnish representative’s on-stage girl-on-girl kiss, with TRT instead citing low viewing figures as an alternative reason. However, further press reports emerged in 2014 suggesting that a Turkish MP had expressed relief at the country’s non-participation in light of Conchita Wurst’s Austrian win. As in each year since then, rumours abound of a possible return in 2017, but this remains unconfirmed by the EBU.

Fandom without borders

Esctoday.com invites fans from all countries to spare a thought for those without a country to cheer for this year; as returning countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia prove, there is often a light at the end of the tunnel! As the final hour approaches, it is a good time to reaffirm the international nature of Eurovision fandom, that combined endeavour to come together and celebrate music and diversity. Esctoday.com wishes all a great final, however, and from wherever, you may be watching!

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