Eurovision Song Contest becomes Back to Live pilot
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands will take place as a government-backed pilot event with a small in-person audience, a Dutch minister has announced.
Arie Slob, a minister for media under culture secretary Ingrid van Engelshoven, tells De Telegraaf that it will be possible to admit thousands of fans to Eurovision, which returns this spring after cancelling in 2020, by bringing the contest under Fieldlab Evenementen’s Back to Live, a series of pilot concerts, festivals and other live events which has been running since February. The most recent Back to Live events, two test festivals held at the Lowlands site in Biddinghuizen, took place on 20 and 21 March.
Currently, it is hoped a maximum of 3,500 people a day will be admitted to the 16,426-capacity Rotterdam Ahoy arena from 18 to 22 May, though plans are subject to change should the coronavirus situation deteriorate.
As with previous Back to Live trial events, fans will only be permitted to enter the Ahoy after testing negative for Covid-19.
“We welcome this decision by the Dutch government and the possibility that we can invite fans to join us”
In total, there will be nine shows, including rehearsals, for Eurovision 2021, the 65th edition of the pan-European song contest.
“We welcome this decision by the Dutch government and the possibility that we can invite fans to join us as we bring the Eurovision Song Contest back in May,” says Martin Österdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor.
“We will consider the options now available and announce more details in the coming weeks on how we can safely admit audiences to the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam should the situation allow. The health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority.”
“The fact that we now have the opportunity to plan for a Eurovision Song Contest with an audience again is something we could only dream of [previously],” the contest’s executive producer Sietse Bakker tells public broadcaster NOS. “We are grateful to the cabinet and to Fieldlab Evenementen for this perspective and the confidence they have placed in us.”
Organisers call off 2020 Eurovision Song Contest
The 65th Eurovision Song Contest has become the latest high-profile event to be called off in the face of the continuing spread of coronavirus.
The news comes just hours after organisers announced the cancellation of the 2020 Glastonbury Festival.
The European Broadcasting Union announced today (18 March) that the annual competition, which was set to take place on 16 May at the 16,000-capacity Rotterdam Ahoy Arena, has been delayed until 2021.
“It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020,” reads a statement from organisers.
“The Eurovision Song Contest will come back stronger than ever”
“We have explored many alternative option to allow the contest to go ahead. However, the uncertainty created by the spread of Covid-19 throughout Europe means it is impossible to continue with the live event as planned.”
The event’s executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, adds: “We are very proud of the Eurovision Song Contest, that for 64 years has united people all around Europe. We regret this situation very much, but I can promise you: the Eurovision Song Contest will come back stronger than ever.”
Participating broadcasters are in discussions with the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group to decide whether the selected artists will be able to perform their songs next year.
Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won last year’s Eurovision Song Contest.