Among many of the historical events to spring out of 2020 was the cancellation of Eurovision that year. Eurovision is a European singing contest in which each participating country submitted an original song to be performed live, and then viewers all over the continent voted on a winner.
Eurovision has been an annual event since 1956. 2020 was the first year in the contest’s existence that the event had to be cancelled. The event would have taken place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as it is a tradition that the winning country of the previous year hosts the event. In 2019, Dutch song “Arcade” by Duncan Laurence had taken home the victory. Unfortunately, the 2020 contest was canceled due to the spread of COVID-19.
It looks like the Netherlands will be able to host Eurovision after all: Eurovision 2021 is set to take place between May 18th and May 22nd in Rotterdam. This will be the fifth time in Eurovision history that Netherlands is the host country, with the last time having been the 1980 contest.
While everyone is excitedly looking forward to the event, precautions will be taken and the event will look very different from previous years. The Dutch government has indicated that they would welcome a live audience of 3,500 spectators, all with negative COVID tests, as long as case numbers remain low. If numbers spike once again, it is believed that the event will not have a live audience.
While the Netherlands has had strict COVID-19 regulations thus far, the government agreed to potentially make Eurovision 2021 a field test to determine whether large-scale events can be held safely going forward. There will likely be pre-event rapid testing and post-event monitoring, and under the current framework, only Dutch fans will be screened as potential spectators.
This historically differs from previous years, as often host countries and cities of Eurovision enjoyed a spike in tourism as fans traveled across the continent to view the spectacle.
But despite these necessary precautions, Eurovision 2021 will most likely experience the same amount of success as previous years. The majority of the audience tunes in from home anyways, as the contest sees an annual audience of between 100 million and 600 million, both on live television and radio.
The lineup offers a glimpse into the excitement of this year’s contest: previous winner Duncan Laurence will open the first semi-final and debut a new song in the grand final, and planned presenters include actress and television host Chantal Janzen, singer Jan Smit, singer Edsilia Rombley, and beauty vlogger Nikke de Jager. There will be 39 countries participating, including Bulgaria and Ukraine returning after their absence in 2019.
Eurovision is even offering a special treat to Americans who decide to tune in this year: beloved rapper Flo Rida is working on making an appearance, as San Marino’s entry “Adrenalina” by singer Senhit features his vocals. In an interview with BBC, Flo Rida said, “It would be an honor to perform with her. I would love to go.” And Senhit made it clear that they are in contact with contest planners every day to try to organize his appearance on stage. Whether he will be able to make it or not will depend on COVID-19-related travel restrictions at the time.