Is the Eurovision Song Contest officially cancelled? That’s the question on everyone’s minds following Tuesday’s Reference Group meeting. The Reference Group is essentially the Executive Committee for all members participating in Eurovision. Its purpose is to control and guide the Eurovision Song Contest. Host broadcasters of the show remain on the group for the following two years after their edition to help advise the current host broadcaster. And on Tuesday the group had to deal with the unprecedented reality that the coronavirus pandemic may force them to cancel this year’s song contest.
Is Eurovision cancelled? Reference Group addresses pandemic fears
On Monday the Euro 2020 football tournament was postponed by one year and the French Open tennis tournament was pushed back to September and October. And on the same day officials in charge of our beloved contest had to discuss their options amid the ongoing pandemic.
Citing unnamed sources, the main news programme of KAN — Israel’s state broadcaster — has said that the contest will be cancelled and that the decision is likely to be revealed on Wednesday.
— ??? ????? (@kann_news) March 17, 2020
KAN’s culture correspondent Shani Nahshoni reports that “out of the options to postpone or cancel, it appears the contest will be cancelled this year.” She adds that the EBU will make the announcement official “probably” on Wednesday.
We should point out that this has not been confirmed officially.
Sources close to the Reference Group tell Wiwibloggs that it discussed at least three options — holding an online only show with no audience; delaying the show to the end of summer; and delaying the show to May 2021 with Rotterdam as host city.
Earlier on Monday, Icelandic media claimed that the contest was in fact cancelled. When they reached out to Iceland’s Head of Delegation Felix Bergsson, he said he could not confirm the news.
“It would be extremely sad if that were the case,” he said. “We just have to see what comes out of this meeting today.”
“I’m not going to have any more words about this but I don’t believe they will turn it off. I just can’t believe it.”
The European Broadcasting Union responds
Earlier today, the EBU issued a statement via the official Eurovision social media accounts that addressed those wanting more information about the fate of Eurovision 2020.
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) March 17, 2020
In their statement, the EBU wrote:
“We know you are anxiously waiting news about the future of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
“With a constantly changing situation regarding coronavirus and a large number of people to consult, every important element needs to be taken into consideration.
“Please bear with us. We hope to have more information shortly.”
The Netherlands: Restrictions to fight the coronavirus cast doubt on Eurovision 2020
On Thursday the Netherlands introduced strict measures to slow the spread of Covid-19. These included a ban on events over 100 people. They then extended these restrictions amid a mounting death toll. The situation in the Netherlands is likely to get worse before it gets better. As Reuters reports, the nation’s healthcare minister has already stated that additional measures are likely.
“I am certain these will not be our last measures, the situation keeps developing very rapidly and we will keep deciding on further measures based on the knowledge of experts,” Bruno Bruins said. “I cannot speculate on what measures these will be, but it is clear that more will follow.”
Schools and childcare centers across the nation have shut. They will remain closed until April 6 under the current restrictions. Cafes and restaurants are also shut, as well as sports clubs, saunas, and coffee shops.
Restrictions imposed by foreign governments also complicated the picture. Australia, for instance, has ordered its citizens not to travel abroad. Such restrictions would, no doubt, impact the ability of acts to participate in the song contest.
For detailed information about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and how to stay healthy, please visit the World Health Organisation web site.