'Limited' Eurovision to be held in May

Toby Sterling
·1-min read

The 2021 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in a limited form in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in May due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers say.

Some performances will be held in the city in a "socially distanced" way, organisers said, without specifying whether any live audiences would be allowed in.

Some delegations may submit recorded performances.

"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," said Martin Osterdahl, the contest's executive supervisor, in a statement.

The Netherlands is hosting the 65th edition of the event, which draws a television audience of about 200 million, after Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 contest with the song Arcade.

After being cancelled in 2020 shortly after the coronavirus arrived in Europe, this year's competition will feature semi-finals held on May 18 and 20 and a final on May 22, with 41 countries participating.

Organisers said in October they were considering four options for performances at Rotterdam's Ahoy Arena ranging from a relatively normal version with a crowd of thousands to one with a limited audience taking distancing measures or with no audience at all.

On Wednesday they said they are still focusing on a scenario where some guests could attend under "strict health and safety measures, including frequent COVID testing".

But they said that plan could "realistically" be downscaled and that they are anyway refunding all tickets that have been purchased so far.

A final decision on fans' attendance may only be made in mid-April, a spokesman said.