Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest announced on Wednesday that the 2021 edition will be organized in a limited format in Rotterdam, Netherlands in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Some performances will be held in the city in a socially distanced way, organizers said without indicating whether any live audiences would be allowed in. "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 contest was canceled in 2020 shortly after the coronavirus arrived in Europe. Following the cancelation, organizers created a two-hour show called “Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light” that was broadcast in more than 40 countries. So rather than judging songs from 41 artists from Albania to the U.K., the event united countries. This year's competition will see semifinals held on May 18 and May 20, and a final on May 22, with 41 countries participating.
In October, the organizers had said that 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 social distancing measures, or with no audience at all. On Wednesday, they declared they still plan to host some guests under "strict health and safety measures, including frequent COVID testing." They said that the plan, however, could "realistically" be downscaled. A final decision on fans' attendance may only be made in mid-April, a spokesperson said.
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