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Film and TV

Eurovision Song Contest officially cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

Nick Duffy March 18, 2020
Iceland's Daði og Gagnamagnið had been tipped to win Eurovision 2020

Iceland's Daði og Gagnamagnið had been tipped to win Eurovision 2020. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The future of the pan-European contest, which was set to take place in Rotterdam in May, was confirmed after the Netherlands joined other countries in placing restrictions on concerts and mass gatherings.

Despite hopes that the show might be able to go on without an audience or with a remote studio format, organisers confirmed on Wednesday that it has been cancelled entirely.

Coronavirus has cancelled the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest

The European Broadcasting Union said in a statement: “It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam.

“Over the past few weeks, we have explored many alternative options to allow the Eurovision Song Contest to go ahead.

“However, the uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe – and the restrictions put in place by the governments of the participating broadcasters and the Dutch authorities – means the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has taken the difficult decision to not continue with the live event as planned.”

It is the first time the event has been cancelled in its 64 year history.

Organisers say that they will “continue in conversation” with the city of Rotterdam “regarding the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021” – though it’s “currently too early to discuss any specifics regarding the event next year.”

Duncan Laurence, representing The Netherlands, wins the Grand Final of the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 18, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Duncan Laurence, representing The Netherlands, wins the Grand Final of the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 18, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

The EBU explained that they explored options to hold the show in a different format, but added: “It’s in the DNA of the Eurovision Song Contest to bring delegations, artists and fans together in one place and provide an equal platform for all artists to compete together on the same stage and the same opportunity to shine.

“We felt that under the extreme circumstances we face this year, organizing the Eurovision Song Contest in another way would not be in keeping with our values and the tradition of the event.

“The unique format of the Song Contest as an international live event means that it is not possible to identify any realistic alternative. We therefore have no choice other than to cancel the show.”

‘Yet to be decided’ whether artists can perform the same songs in 2021

All 41 participating countries had already picked their entries for the song contest – and it is yet to be decided whether the artists will still be eligible to compete with the same songs in 2021.

The EBU said: “This is to be discussed with the Reference Group and the participating broadcasters and a decision will be communicated later.

“We ask some patience as we work through the ramifications of this unprecedented decision and patiently await further news in the coming days and weeks.”

Iceland’s Daði og Gagnamagnið had been heavily tipped to take the top prize at the contest with entry “Think About Things”.

Tickets had already been sold for the event, which attracts tens of thousands of fans from across the world.

The EBU is yet to offer refunds, saying: “You will be informed about this as soon as possible. Among other things, we will look at whether the buyers will get their money back or whether the tickets will remain valid until next year.

“As soon as there is more clarity, ticket buyers will receive an email with their various options at the email address from which they purchased their tickets.”

More: eurovision, eurovision song contest, TV

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