Eurovision 2017: the latest information from the preparations
Young boys and girls have gathered at the premises of the National Police of Ukraine. The training of Eurovision 2017 volunteers starts today. The coaches are hanging posters on the walls. Some posters depict smiling lips, some read “We love our volunteers,” “Keep calm and always smile” and so on. The coaches are handing out leaflets, pens and eco bags featuring contest symbols to volunteers. All the people are a little bit fidgety and confused, but everyone, who enters the room, is welcomed with a smile. Smile is perhaps the main point of today’s training session.
“Do you know the myth about Ukraine? They say that we are really reserved, do not smile, the guests do not know whether we are okay or not,” starts Deputy Director for Projects of the British Council Ukraine Natalia Vasyliuk and then adds: “When people get to know us closer, they find out we are very hospitable people.” Smile is a very serious thing. Volunteers should have a smile on their faces in every situation. “The selection of volunteers was very tough,” Mrs. Vasyliuk assures, noting she is happy with the fact that Ukrainian youth are improving their knowledge of English. There are volunteers who speak even several languages, which is certainly a plus.
“The coaches are great and enthusiastic, and the volunteers are unique,” Mrs. Vasyliuk says, adding this is an opinion of her colleague from the UK. The opening ceremony of the training session is in English. The volunteers were asked whether they need translation, and they refused it. “Are you ready for the Eurovision 2017?” coach from India Mandju Eterton asks. “Yes, we are!” the audience answers in chorus. The volunteers-to-be are divided into pairs. The first task is to learn more about an interlocutor in just few minutes, speaking English only. The patrol police officers sit behind the volunteers and also perform the tasks.
The Eurovision quiz turns out to be a more difficult challenge. The volunteers are asked how many times Ukraine has won the Eurovision. Everybody knows the right answer – Ukraine has been the winner twice. A more difficult question is what participating country has been a record-holder for wins. This question got the audience thinking. However, the most popular Eurovision winner was called without hesitation – Swedish band ABBA. The volunteers got a notebook or a candy for each correct answer. Maria Khrapunenko, a student of Kharkiv, collected the largest number of prizes. She said that she had begun to watch Eurovision after Ruslana’s victory in 2004 and read about the history of the contest before the interview. “It was interesting, fun and lively,” student from Kyiv Dmytro Teslenko said during the break. He applied for a volunteering position at Eurovision accidentally, when he saw an ad on the Internet. Dmytro was surprised that not knowledge of English but motivation to be a volunteer at Eurovision was the main criterion for selection. His desire to take part in the competition appeared after Jamala’s victory.
It turns out that Jamala also inspired student of Warsaw University Iryna Kostiukova to become a volunteer at the song contest in Kyiv. The coaches continue to conduct the class and offer to simulate a situation that may happen during the work of volunteers. The volunteers-to-be are again divided into pairs. One volunteer is set a task to show an aggressive tourist, another student has to respond to this situation as a volunteer. Another pair of students has to simulate a situation with a good tourist. In both situations, volunteers keep calm and smile and coaches nod in approval. The police officers listen to the volunteers and say that they know English well. Police inspector from Kyiv Tetiana Zhembotska says that the police officers also improve their English at the British Council on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest. The scheduled Customer Service training for volunteers has been held for 15 people, several trainings had been already conducted before. 900 people passed the selection for Eurovision. In total, there were 12,000 applications from prospective volunteers for Eurovision 2017. In addition, volunteers from other countries will arrive in a few days. “Foreigners make up 5% of all volunteers who passed the test,” says coach of the Volunteers for Europe project Oksana Nazimok. She explains that most of the volunteers have extensive volunteer experience, get English language practice at schools and so on. And this is not only about young people, because the oldest volunteer is 62 years old.
Most of the foreigners who purchased tickets for Eurovision 2017 are citizens of Great Britain, Sweden, Norway and Israel. This has been stated by Head of Kyiv City State Administration’s tourism department Anton Taranenko, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “A large number of fans of the Eurovision Song Contest from Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, and Israel wants to come to us,” Anton Taranenko said. He has noted that more than 30,000 tickets for the song contest have been already sold out. He has also assured that the capital’s hotels are ready to receive guests.
20,000 tourists expected
Kyiv authorities expect that around 20,000 tourists will arrive to the city for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, according to Anton Taranenko, the head of Kyiv City State Administration’s tourism department. “20,000 tourists are expected [to arrive] for the song contest. About 15-18 thousand will be foreign tourists, and about 7-8 thousand more – domestic tourists,” Taranenko said. As to the sale of tickets for the Eurovision, Taranenko said that over 30,000 tickets had been already purchased, of which a half was acquired by foreigners. According to him, in general, 30 thousand tourists, along with Ukrainian tourists, will visit the city of Kyiv on May 1-15.
Ruslana speaks about the production
Ukrainian singer and Eurovision 2004 winner Ruslana told journalists about special features of the technical production for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. “… The production is the latest thing in technology. It’s one of the biggest screens I’ve ever seen in my entire life – it’s 70 meters in wide, 11 meters in height,” Ruslana said at a meeting with journalists held at the art hub of Ukrinform on April 25. She assured media representatives that it will look like a real computer game. Ruslana also told about visual effects that are planned for her performance during the final of the Eurovision 2017. “This production will give the opportunity to create absolutely any atmosphere – up to the storm. And this dynamics will be provided by everything – wind machines, and lights, and smoke, and screens. This means you can get into any episode,” she said. Ukrainian singer and Eurovision 2004 winner Ruslana believes that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be very diverse. The Ukrainian singer said this at a meeting with journalists on Tuesday, an Ukrinform correspondent reported. “In my opinion, this year’s Eurovision will be interesting. And it’s not only because of production. I looked carefully at all participants, and it looks like Europe will look very cool this year,” Ruslana noted. She also told about the participants whom she liked the most. “I like Italy, there is a very nice guy from Bulgaria. He came up to me in London and said that he fell in love with me. I like the duet from Belarus – a very bright duet, very light music. I like Romania. I like the voice of a Polish girl. And in general – I’m sure that this year’s Eurovision will be very diverse!” Ruslana stressed.
Additional money for security
Additional UAH 45 is needed to be allocated to ensure safety while holding the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv. State secretary for the Interior Ministry of Ukraine Oleksiy Takhtiy said this during the Ministry’s meeting on Tuesday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “The issue of financing and taking the public security and law and order measures during the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv is critical. Ensuring safety at this event requires clear and coordinated actions of the entire law enforcement system. Of course, taking public security measures during this event also needs additional resources, particularly, UAH 45 million at least,” Takhtiy said.
Ukraine expects Russian provocations
The Kremlin-controlled media are preparing an information campaign aimed at discrediting the international image of Ukraine while hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv. This is reported by the press center of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Defense Ministry of Ukraine. “In general, the information campaign of the Kremlin-controlled mass media will be aimed at making the international community believe in the oppression of the national minorities by right-wing radical movements and Ukrainian authorities and the instability of the security situation in our country. The purpose of these events is to significantly affect the international image of Ukraine in the context of hosting Eurovision 2017,” the report says. As a reminder, the semifinals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 will be held on May 9 and 11, the grand final will be held on May 13 in Kyiv.