Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will 'definitely' go ahead in May 'despite the pandemic'

But the annual competition will not take place 'as normal'

Ahoy Arena is de iconische plek waar de mensen Rotterdam Ahoy van kennen. Hier stonden wereldsterren als Jennifer Lopez, U2 en Justin Bieber. De Ahoy Arena biedt plaats aan 15.000 mensen. Er wordt ook op het hoogste niveau gesport in deze venue.

Last year, it was decided that there were four potential scenarios in which the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 could go ahead. Now, it's been confirmed there is no way it will go ahead "as normal".

It will, however, "definitely" go ahead "despite the pandemic", said Martin Osterdahl, the contest's executive supervisor, on Wednesday.

With just more than three months to go until the annual international singing competition – which is set to take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on May 18, 20 and 22 – the final details are in the process of being determined.

"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," Osterdahl said.

“We very much hope to be able to gather in Rotterdam in May and will do all we can in the coming weeks to achieve this. With an ever-changing situation we are taking our time to ensure that we can host the Eurovision Song Contest in the best and safest way possible,” he said.

Scenario A has been ruled out

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has been decided that there is no way the 65th annual contest can take place "as normal", as ruled by the European Broadcasting Union, Dutch Host broadcasters NPO, NOS and Avrotros, and the City of Rotterdam.

There are, however, three other ways the event could potentially take place, each scenario with its own, increasingly strict social-distancing measures in place.

As of now, organisers are focusing their efforts on scenario B, which would involve hosting a socially distanced event with artists performing at the Rotterdam Ahoy arena, with either no crowd or a reduced audience.

The team is leaving this open to downscaling in the weeks to come.

"The security, health and safety of all participants at the Eurovision Song Contest, from the crew to the artists, is our top priority," Osterdahl said. "We are following international developments closely and continuing to explore and plan for three revised scenarios."

A "travel-restricted" Scenario C would see acts perform "live on tape", with hosts and interval musicians to perform from the arena, and either no or a reduced audience. A "lockdown" Scenario D would see all acts take place live on tape and no audience at all.

A final decision on how the event will take place will be made in the coming weeks.

Sietse Bakker, executive producer for the Dutch Host broadcasters, said: “By staying flexible for as long as we can, we are aiming to make the best possible Eurovision Song Contest under the circumstances.

"Our primary goal is to get the 41 artists to Rotterdam, to all perform on the same stage, and to welcome journalists to cover the contest.”

Eurovision 2020 was scheduled to take place in May last year in Rotterdam, however, it was cancelled in March.

Jon Ola Sand, then executive supervisor, said at the time: "We regret this situation very much, but I can promise you: the Eurovision Song Contest will come back stronger than ever."