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Film and TV

Eurovision addresses ‘anxious’ fans over future of the song contest in wake of coronavirus pandemic

Nick Duffy March 17, 2020
Eurovision finalists during the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 14, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Eurovision finalists during the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 14, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Guy Prives/Getty Images)

Contain your panic, but the future of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 is very much in doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Not content with cancelling Pride events, closing down gay bars, and wreaking havoc across the West End and Broadway, coronavirus now threatens the very crown jewel of gay culture.

The annual pan-European song contest is scheduled to take place at Rotterdam Ahoy arena in the Netherlands from May 12, with tickets already sold, and acts for all 41 participating countries already selected.

Tens of thousands of fans usually flock to the host city for the event, but with travel restrictions coming into effect across Europe, doubts have been raised over if the event can possibly go ahead as planned – or at all.

Eurovision Song Contest bosses address coronavirus fears.

At the moment in the Netherlands, all bars, cafés and restaurants have been directed to close with immediate effect, while public events with 100 or more attendees have been cancelled until further notice.

In a statement on Tuesday, Eurovision organisers acknowledged concerns over the future of the event.

They wrote: “We know you are anxiously waiting news about the future of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“With a constantly changing situation regarding coronavirus and a large number of people to consult, every important element needs to be taken into consideration.

“Please bear with us. We hope to have more information shortly.”

Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song 'Zero Gravity' during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest
Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song ‘Zero Gravity’ during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The statement comes amid a high-stakes meeting over the future of the 2020 contest.

The show could drastically change format

Fans on social media have speculated on whether the contest could go ahead as a pure TV show without a crowd present – or, in an even more restricted scenario, whether all of the individual performances could be streamed from their home countries instead of from the arena in Rotterdam.

According to Eurovoix, Slovenia’s broadcaster has already let slip that a “plan B” under discussion for the event is likely to mean the latter, with each member broadcaster filming a studio segment that would be linked by an anchor in the Netherlands.

Other speculative options would see the event delayed until the autumn, or simply skip a year and roll over the entire contest until May 2021.

There is little official word yet on what will happen, however.

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, eurovision, eurovision song contest, Rotterdam

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