Eurovision will go ahead with restrictions (Picture: Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Eurovision Song Contest organisers have confirmed that while the contest will go ahead this year, it is ‘impossible’ to hold a normal event.
The May 2020 contest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the 41 acts for that year forced to scrap the songs they had planned to enter.
To ensure that the show would go ahead this summer, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) created four scenarios for hosting the contest – from the usual Eurovision we know and love, to an entirely remote event.
Scenario A envisioned a normal Eurovision – that is, one where the semi-finals and grand final will take place in a fully packed Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam.
This scenario – considered the most ideal – ‘largely depended on the roll out of a possible vaccine for Covid-19 or the availability of reliable testing’.
However, it has now been confirmed that this scenario has been scrapped, with B, C and D still possibilities.
Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said: ‘The Eurovision Song Contest will definitely make its welcome return this May despite the pandemic but, in the prevailing circumstances, it is regrettably impossible to hold the event in the way we are used to.
‘We’re grateful for the renewed commitment and backing from the City of Rotterdam and the ongoing support of all the participating broadcasters. 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.’
Organisers are focusing their efforts on bringing Scenario B to fruition.
Scenario B envisions a socially distant Eurovision, with everybody present remaining 1.5 meters away from each other.
The shows and dress rehearsals would still take place in the arena, but with limited capacity to ensure social distancing, and there would be limits on the number of people travelling with each delegation, as well as a limit on press.
The EBU stated: ‘There would be 9 shows (6 dress rehearsals, 2 Semi-Finals and a Grand Final), either with no audience or a reduced audience to allow for social distancing. The final capacity would be dependent on local government guidelines.’
The UK has yet to announce its entrant (Picture: AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Scenario B would result in a new seating layout, as well as a ‘fair draw’ to reduce attendees and refunds to those who are no longer able to attend.
If any delegations cannot make it, their ‘live-on-tape’ pre-recorded performance – which all the acts must film in advance – will be used.
Scenario C will take place in the Ahoy Arena, with the hosts and interval acts live from Rotterdam, but all participants’ performances being ‘live-on-tape’ and no artists travelling to Rotterdam.
The strictest of the scenarios is Scenario D, which would be a Eurovision in lockdown.
Should the Netherlands end up back in lockdown, Eurovision will be held without an audience, and most likely without activities around Rotterdam.
All of the performances would be held remotely in the participants’ countries.
It will be decided which scenario will go ahead in the next few weeks.
The United Kingdom has yet to reveal who will be representing us at the 2021 contest, but James Newman has not ruled himself out, after being chosen to represent the UK in Rotterdam last year with his song My Last Breath.
At the last Song Contest, the UK came in last place with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us.
The Netherlands are the reigning champions, following Duncan Laurence’s win with Arcade in 2019.
Montaigne (Australia), Vincent Bueno (Austria), Efendi (Azerbaijan), Hooverphonic (Belgium), Victoria (Bulgaria), Benny Cristo (Czech Republic), Tornike Kipiani (Georgia), Stefania (Greece), Daði og Gagnamagnið (Iceland), Lesley Roy (Ireland), Eden Alene (Israel), Samanta Tina (Latvia), Destiny (Malta), Natalia Gordienko (Moldova), Vasil (North Macedonia), Roxen (Romania), Senhit (San Marino), Hurricane (Serbia), Ana Soklic (Slovenia), Blas Canto (Spain), Gjon’s Tears (Switzerland), Jeangu Macrooy (The Netherlands) and Go_A (Ukraine) are all returning to compete.
Meanwhile, Elena Tsagrinou will represent Cyprus with her song El Diablo after Sandro represented the country last year, Anxhela Peristeri will represent Albania instead of 2020 entrant Arilena Ara, and Barbara Pravi will sing Voila for France, after Tom Leeb’s effort in 2020.
The Eurovision Song Contest grand final will take place on May 22.
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