Will coronavirus cancel the Eurovision Song Contest?
Eurovision may need to be held in an online format this year, amid concern about coronavirus from experts.
The deadly outbreak, which has killed more than 2,800 people globally and has shut down countries, stranded cruise ships and pummelled the US stock market, is now threatening the Eurovision Song Contest.
Eurovision is due to be held in less than three months, in The Netherlands.
Coronavirus has already forced the Six Nations rugby tournament to postpone upcoming matches between Ireland and Italy, which is the focal point of cases in Europe with more than 400 people infected.
Now, an academic at a UK university is warning that coronavirus fears mean that Eurovision organisers need to consider holding the singing contest – a pillar of the LGBT+ social calendar – in an online format.
Dr Libby Carter, lecturer in Event, Venue and Experience Management at Birmingham City University’s Business School, said: “In 11 short weeks Rotterdam is expected to host the 65th Eurovision Song Contest – a contest designed with the intention to bring together different countries within Europe. However, given the outbreak and continuous spread of the coronavirus, questions will be asked about the security of the contest.
“We have seen the impact of the virus on sporting events with the Rugby Six Nations cancelling their matches between Italy and Ireland. Furthermore, Switzerland has just announced a ban on public gatherings, given the risks of contamination in crowds. It could be that fans shouldn’t get too excited yet as there is a likelihood that the Eurovision Song Contest may also be postponed or cancelled. If this is the case there will be huge implications to the economy of the Netherlands, not to mention implications to the huge effort which goes to broadcasting such an event live.
“Given the involvement of broadcasters, it could be that the event may need to consider a more ‘online’ format which would see contestants performing in their own country without a live audience to contain any further spreading.
“Yet the nature of the competition is to bring together different cultures, a dilemma organisers will need to consider in the next few weeks.”
Last year Eurovision was won by Duncan Laurence of The Netherlands.