Baku 2012: Should we be worried?

Despite elegant boulevards, Baku still needs a venue for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The EBU have met with İctimai and have been apprised of the host broadcaster’s plans for the staging and organization of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest. While lauding the ambitious plans for the construction of a completely new arena at Baku’s National Flag Square, the EBU is also insisting on a Plan B to fall back on in case construction cannot be completed in time. It makes sense, but just how logical is it to be working on two separate scenarios in parallel? Furthermore, precious weeks have already flown by, and the time in which construction should be taking place is not happening. At this point, we should be seeing concrete plans, renders and timelines, not vague hints from the government on how “everything will be ready”.

I have no doubt that with the right conditions (unlimited national coffers not withstanding), Azerbaijan could host a spectacular contest the likes of which we’ve never seen. But given the severe lack of infrastructure, I would have imagined the folks over at İctimai would have had a well thought-out plan on procuring these before being all gung-ho about winning. Surely they must have seen this coming? Plans should have been set in motion the moment Azerbaijan won. Now weeks have gone by and summer is nearly over and we still haven’t heard anything concrete.

Or course, rumours are abound that Italy and Sweden have been asked to be on stand-by to step in and take over hosting. Of course, these have been hotly denied by the EBU but I can see why they would. They would not want to appear as being doubtful in the capabilities of one of their (most enthusiastic) members. My guess is that they are still evaluating if they are up to hosting. Notice that at the Winner’s Press Conference, Jon Ola Sand merely extended an invitation to begin discussions on hosting, rather than stating outright “See you in Azerbaijan next year”, as they’ve done for the years past. Perhaps they’ve had their reservations then? Furthermore, the insistence on a Plan B underscores this. The EBU would be very foolish to not at-least hint to Italy and Sweden of such a possibility.

Of-course, these very same apprehensions were cast when Estonia, Ukraine and Serbia were all preparing to host, but then again, those were different circumstances. In this instance, the host country has no suitable venue, barely-there infrastructure and severe political problems with a neighboring participant country. I really do wish that Azerbaijan can get their act together because this could potentially be a very lavish, exotic and amazing show. But time is ticking. Ticking on an amazing opportunity for the country.