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Eurovision rules out full arena show for this year’s song contest due to COVID-19

Maggie Baska February 4, 2021
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Eurovision Song Contest rules out full arena show due to COVID-19

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)

Eurovision 2021 organisers have ruled out that the contest can take place “as normal”, meaning that the audience size will be greatly diminished.

The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled last March due to the pandemic, leaving queering people across Europe devastated.

But this year’s contest will take place regardless on 18, 20 and 22 May 2021, so fans still have a few dates they can put in their calendars. The organisers also confirmed that 41 public service broadcasters will submit entries for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Semi-finals will take place on 18 and 20 May. The grand final will be held on 22 May.

The Eurovision Song Contest organisers said the health and safety of all participants is the top priority, and it became apparent that the usual full capacity arena shows would not be viable because of the ongoing pandemic.

Martin Österdahl, executive superior of the Eurovision Song Contest, said the contest will definitely make its “welcome return” in May despite COVID-19, but it is “regrettably impossible to hold the event the same way we are used to”.

He said: “We very much hope to be able to gather in Rotterdam in May and will do all we can in the coming weeks to achieve this.

“With an ever-changing situation, we are taking our time to ensure that we can host the Eurovision Song Contest in the best and safest way possible.”

So what might Eurovision 2021 look like?

Organisers said they will use the three-month lead up to the contest to focus on scenario B. This will mostly involve hosting a socially distanced event, and the arena will only be filled to 80 per cent capacity.

The contest will still be held in Rotterham’s Ahoy arena, and most if not all participants will be performing in Rotterdam. If delegations can’t travel to Rotterdam, their artists will perform “live-on-tape” with a recorded performance being used. Those who can travel in will perform their stones live on stage.

Final capacity for the area will be dependent on local government guidelines. Strict health and safety measures, including frequent COVID testing, will be in place at the venue.

But what if scenario B doesn’t work out?

If scenario B isn’t viable, there are still two more options for how Eurovision 2021 can go forward. Scenario C – a travel restricted Eurovision – will still have the contest held in Ahoy arena. No delegations or artists will travel to Rotterdam, and all performances will be “live-on-tape”.

But hosts and interval acts will still be live from Ahoy. Max audience capacity will still sit around 80 per cent, like in scenario B.

If there is another lockdown in Rotterdam, the organisers will jump to scenario D. This will see a Eurovision Song Contest without an audience. The performances of all participants will be pre-recorded.

 

Related topics: Coronavirus, COVID-19, eurovision song contest

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