With just six months to go until Eurovision 2021, the EBU and the Dutch government are hard at work discussing options for hosting next year’s Contest.
Back in September, the EBU announced four scenarios to ensure a Contest can take place in 2021:
Scenario A – Eurovision as normal
In this slightly optimistic best-case scenario, Coronavirus would have been brought fully under control by May 2021, allowing for the Contest to be held as normal. There would be nine total live shows including dress rehearsals and jury shows, a full audience and numerous activities in and around Rotterdam.
Scenario B – A Socially Distanced Contest
If Coronavirus is brought down to a relatively low-risk level, it may be feasible to hold a socially distanced version of the Contest. In this eventuality, there would still be nine shows with arena audiences, but capacity would be strictly limited to allow for social distancing.
In a move that may suggest that this is currently perceived as the most likely scenario, the Dutch Government has recently approved trials for running large live events featuring audience ‘bubbles’ of no more than 250 people. Each bubble would have their own bar and toilet facilities to avoid any risk of mixing.
However, these events will only be authorised in areas where COVID transmission is already deemed to be low-risk, which is not currently the case in any of the major Dutch cities.
Scenario C – A Contest with travel restrictions
In the event that Coronavirus is still causing travel restrictions around the world, the EBU will make provisions for contestants to perform remotely from their own country. Those that can make it to Rotterdam will perform in the arena with a limited, socially distanced audience, while the rest are broadcast from local venues.
Even if the majority of contestants are able to travel to Rotterdam, the contestant from Australia could face the strongest likelihood of being affected by this, with overland travel to Rotterdam virtually impossible and commercial flights to and from the country extremely limited.
Scenario D – A Contest in lockdown
The worst-case scenario, in which no meaningful progress is made on tackling Coronavirus and the Netherlands remains in a state of lockdown next May. The EBU has already committed that a competitive Eurovision must be held in 2021, so in this scenario the entire contest would be held remotely – with no audience and no additional activities in Rotterdam. Performances would all be broadcast from local venues, with hosting and interval acts likely to come from the Ahoy Arena.
While this scenario feels difficult, it is worth noting that it is the format that has been adopted by this month’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which may provide a taste of what we might expect in May should this scenario come to pass.
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