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After the post-pandemic year 2021, in which we witnessed the first Eurovision Song Contest with security measures, the Parisian celebration of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2021 and the national dream that all Spain lived with Chanel in Turin last May, we are looking forward to the celebration of the junior version of the same next December.
It will be held in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, after the victory of Maléna and her song “Qami Qami” last year in Paris, in what was the first post-pandemic junior festival held with relative normality. The Armenian Radio Television, better known internationally as ARMTV or simply “First Channel”, will be the channel in charge of organizing the contest.
The aim of ARMTV and the Armenian government was to present the country in an attractive way to European viewers. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian highlighted the great opportunity of hosting Junior Eurovision 2022 in the country. In February it was revealed that the country’s capital, Yerevan, would host the competition and the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex had been chosen as the venue.
The Head of the Armenian Government added that this international event was a good opportunity for Armenia’s travel agencies to return to business after the Coronavirus pandemic, bringing back the tourist flows to Armenia. For this purpose he would allocate the necessary budget by allocating funds to prepare Junior Eurovision 2022. Thus, on April 6, Yerevan and the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex were officially confirmed as the venue for the 20th edition of Junior Eurovision. In the same statement, the EBU and ARMTV also revealed that the competition will be held on Sunday, December 11 starting at 16:00 CET.
In this edition, the strategy initiated in Paris 2021 will be continued, linking the contest to the festive events of Christmas. However, the date was conditioned by the celebration of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, with December 11 being the only free date without matches before the Christmas holidays.
During this time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased instability in Eastern Europe. The open conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia was also a source of concern for the EBU. The European organization has worked during this time to strengthen the security of participating delegations.
During these months, new clashes broke out on the Caucasian borders. On September 12, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against Armenia, a neighboring country and enemy with which it has been at war for decades over the historic Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The artillery shelling took place at a distance of between 100 and 300 kilometers from Yerevan. Russia, mediator between Baku and Yerevan, announced a cease-fire which, for the time being, seems to be respected.
Although at first the EBU did not comment on the matter, some time later the organization acknowledged that the holding of Junior Eurovision 2022 was not in danger. This situation is similar to that of Eurovision 2023, where the war in Ukraine forced the festival to be moved to an alternative venue, Liverpool 2023. However, the EBU stated that there was “no plan B” for Junior Eurovision. The specialized press echoed rumors about a possible relocation of the festival’s venue. There was even talk of a probable cancellation due to war instability in Armenia because of the conflict with Azerbaijan. The viability and safety of the Armenian project for the children’s competition was even questioned.
As it was reported in the Armenian press, the organization of Junior Eurovision would cost almost 13 million euros. The Armenian government will bear the lion’s share of the budget, claiming that this is an investment in the future with the aim of showcasing the country to the rest of the world. “To give Armenia the attention and expose it to the rest of Europe as it deserves,” they added. The rest of the total budget comes from ARMTV funds, participants’ participation fees and Yerevan City Hall accounts.
Despite the fact that this is a great responsibility, the organizers stated that Armenia will be up to the task of celebrating a great 20th anniversary of Junior Eurovision. The executive producer of the edition, David Tserunyan, confirmed that Armenian TV workers were preparing a show at the highest creative and technical level, with an Armenian production, but with the collaboration of international companies that will be involved in the organization process (pyrotechnic effects, lighting, sound equipment and the construction of the stage).
Compared to the last edition of the festival, several changes have taken place as far as the total number of participating countries is concerned. David Tserunyan, head of the Armenian delegation and executive producer of Junior Eurovision 2022, had hoped to have all the countries of Paris 2021 (except for Russia, sanctioned by the EBU). In addition, they have worked very hard to increase the list of confirmed entries. Initially, they had hoped to gather the symbolic figure of 20 countries.
Finally, on September 26, the EBU and host broadcaster ARMTV unveiled the official list of participants for the 20th edition of Junior Eurovision. A total of 16 countries will take part in the competition. The official announcement was delayed for several weeks due to the border dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In 2022, a good level of participation was maintained despite geopolitical circumstances and instability that influenced the decision of many countries to absent themselves from the competition. Compared to Paris 2021, Junior Eurovision had three less countries taking part. In the end, it was not possible to have the iconic figure of 20 countries to celebrate the 20th anniversary, largely due to the war and political conflicts in Eastern Europe.
This is the same number of contestants as at the inaugural edition in Copenhagen 2003 along with Hasselt 2005, Malta 2014 and Tbilisi 2017. In addition, six of the founding countries will participate this year: Spain, North Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom. Of these, the Netherlands reaches an unprecedented record with 20 uninterrupted participations, being the only country to have been part of all editions of the children’s festival.
Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of Junior Eurovision, was enthusiastic about this very special edition. “We are delighted to welcome talented young artists from 16 countries to Yerevan for the 20th edition of Junior Eurovision,” he added.
Without any doubt, the big news of the edition has been the return of the United Kingdom (BBC). On August 25, the official Junior Eurovision website confirmed the long-awaited addition. Since last year, the EBU and the BBC were in contact for this matter. In fact, on December 17, 2021, it transcended to the press that great progress was made on a possible participation in 2022. Thus, rumors of a possible return of the United Kingdom multiplied, especially after the excellent role of the English delegation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. This will be the fourth participation of the United Kingdom, the first with the BBC.
The British were one of the 16 founding countries of the children’s contest in 2003, when the ITV channel took charge of their representation. Their last participation was in 2005. Wales, meanwhile, participated in 2018 and 2019, through its welsh-only speaking channel S4C.
With respect to last year’s edition, there are four very notable absences, firstly, the withdrawal of Germany, which has been motivated by security reasons for its delegation. The public broadcaster pointed out that the political instability in the area was the main reason for its “voluntary and temporary” withdrawal. In addition, it should be noted that the German government maintains a series of travel restrictions imposed on the area where Armenia is located.
On the other hand, Azerbaijan was unable to sign a peace treaty with Armenia to make its attendance at the competition viable, as the safety of its delegation could not be guaranteed. Bulgaria has preferred not to continue in the contest without offering any reason after its fleeting and discreet return in Paris 2021, also withdrawing from the senior festival for the Liverpool 2023 edition. Finally, it should be noted the forced departure of Russia from the competition. The country’s public broadcasters that were part of the EBU were fulminantly expelled in February as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
Broadcasters that, in the opinion of the European organization, did not provide objective information on the country’s conflict with Ukraine. The EBU’s expulsion of Russian channels C1R, VGTRK/RTR and RDO permanently prevents Russia’s participation in this and other EBU festivals for now.
In addition, a large number of other countries have been about to return or debut in the contest due to the low cost of the children’s festival, such as Greece, Israel, Croatia or Iceland, but finally, due to lack of time to prepare their candidacies or economic problems have ended up declining the offer. Will we see them participating in the 2023 edition?
The EBU updated the member list who are part of the reference group. Among its tasks for Junior Eurovision will be to supervise, approve and take all decisions concerning the event, as well as to propose any changes or suggestions to ensure the improvement and modernization of the contest.
These changes have come about, firstly, due to the annual renewal of the coordinating body of the children’s festival, and secondly due to the departure from the EBU of Russian broadcasters, of which Ekaterina Orlova, of the All-Russian State Television and Broadcasting Company (VGTRK / RTR), was a member. Marta Piekarska of Polish TVP has taken over the chairmanship of this body.
Carla Bugalho (RTP, Portugal), Natia Mshvenieradze (GPB, Georgia), Marta Piekarska (TVP, Poland – Chair), Alexandra Redde (France TV, France), David Tserunyan (AMPTV, Armenia – Organizing Country), Anja Zegwaard (AVROTROS, Netherlands) and Martin Österdahl (EBU) complete the reference group of the children’s festival.