We at ESCUnited are at a loss for words. Eurovision is what kept us united as a group, and even though we understand and empathise with the decision which has been made, nonetheless it has been painful for us all.
The suspense of this decision is something that has been driving fans to panic as they speculated what impact the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would have on the contest. The announcement went live at 14:24 CET on the Eurovision youtube channel and website, which means that many have not yet had a chance to react to the news.
According to the announcement posted on Eurovision.tv, many alternatives were explored for the song contest, but alas it appears that none of them would be possible. The biggest barrier to hosting Eurovision 2020? The restrictions put in place by the EU, country governments, and even local cities – the biggest hurdle likely being the EU travel ban that was put in place just days ago. In a statement Jon Ola Sand said:
“We are very proud of the Eurovision Song Contest, that for 64 years has united people all around Europe. And we are deeply disappointed about this situation. The EBU, together with the Host Broadcaster NPO, NOS, AVROTROS and the City of Rotterdam will continue to talk to see if it’s possible to stage the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in 2021. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the process of staging a great Eurovision Song Contest this year. Unfortunately, that was not possible due to factors beyond our control. We regret this situation very much, but I can promise you: the Eurovision Song Contest will come back stronger than ever.”
The chairwoman of NPO Shula Rijxman was also weighed in on the situation: “This decision by the EBU was inevitable, given the circumstances currently affecting all of Europe as a result of the coronavirus and all the measures that governments must now take. This is a big disappointment for the Dutch audience, the fantastic team behind the scenes, the presenters and the artists. In recent months, a large group of people have worked hard on the Song Contest. We thank them for their great commitment and regret that the results of the efforts will not be visible in the short term. We would particularly like to mention the municipality of Rotterdam, which has proven itself as the ideal partner in this project in the past year.”
Sietse Bakker – Executive Producer for Eurovision 2020 – wanted to empathize with the Eurovision fans and thank them for their support this past year. “For the artists from 41 participating countries, our opening and interval acts that put their hearts and souls into their performance. For the fans who have always supported us and have kept confidence until the last moment. And not least, for the fantastic team, which has worked very hard in recent months to make this 65th edition a great success. We understand and share that disappointment. Some perspective is appropriate because, at the same time, we also realize that this decision and its consequences don’t compare to the challenges faced by people affected, directly or indirectly, by the coronavirus and the difficult but necessary measures.”
The EBU closed the statement by asking fans to be patient as they work through what this means for the contest.
The FAQ section lends us more information about how the decision to cancel was reached.
Why not just postpone?
While postponement was considered, the uncertainty of when this pandemic would end made that an unrealistic plan. In addition, the EBU had concerns about scheduling conflicts, pulling off the contest at a later time, and the impact that postponement would have on the 2021 host’s preparations.
Why not remotely or without an audience?
The EBU weighed in on both of these issues. The reason that the contest could not happen even without an audience was due to the advice of relevant authorities to protect the health and wellness of citizens and the Dutch government banning large gatherings, and travel restrictions for EBU staff. Doing it remotely could happen – but was against the life blood of the contest they said. They wanted each artist and delegation to have an equal platform and chance, which wasn’t possible from 41 locations around the world.
Will the artists return from 2020 return for 2021?
Given the unpredicidented nature of this decision, nothing is known on this. There will be discussion with the Reference Group and broadcasters about this issue, and a decision will be released when it has been made.
What about my ticket to Eurovision?
The EBU said they are working on this, so be patient. They are looking at many different options, some of those options being full refunds, tickets being valid for 2021, and other plans. When a decision is made it will be announced.
What is next for ESCUnited?
This decision does not mean we will stop producing content for you. We will be back soon with more articles and videos, and we’ll gladly cover the 2021 season for you, when the time comes. Until then, stay healthy and stay safe. Eurovision may not happen in May this year, but the contest we all love to hate will be back with a vengeance soon.