At 14:15CET on Wednesday 18 March 2020, NPO boss Shula Rijxman received the call that Eurovision 2020 was not going ahead. That same evening, Rijxman and Sietse Bakker, the Executive Producer of the show, appeared on the talkshow Op1. They shared their reflections and thoughts on the cancellation of the event they had worked on since May 2019.

Rijxman revealed that it did not come completely as a surprise to the organising broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS. She said:

“You are of course already thinking about it yourself and talking with your team about the horrible consequences of the coronavirus. And actually, in the last couple of days [this process around cancellation] was hastened by the EBU. They had scheduled a phone call for later this week, which was rescheduled to an earlier moment. In the past 24 hours, maybe 36 hours, the process hastened again.”

“The restrictions increased over the past weekend. They also increased in different countries. And slowly but surely, I think that you see it, and we saw it too, because at earlier moments, for example, the Head of Delegations meeting in Rotterdam, some countries were not present…or rather wanted to call in…You notice that people are worrying.”

“Literally, if I remember correctly, at a quarter past two, I received a call from the EBU in which they officially announced that they didn’t want to continue Eurovision this year.”

The EBU cancelled Eurovision 2020

Shula added that this decision was taken completely on behalf of the EBU and there was no discussion about it with the organising broadcasters:

“[You can’t discuss it], because such a decision is taken by all kinds of official institutions and by important men and women.”

The many different scenarios by the EBU that were discussed earlier on, such as holding Eurovision without an audience or with a streaming connection, were not reasonable.

“Besides the risk, I don’t think you should want [Eurovision without an audience]. The Eurovision Song Contest is really a music party that lives in the Netherlands, that has sold-out arenas, for which people have been sitting in front of their computer to buy tickets for.”

It was not sustainable to hold Eurovision 2020

Executive Producer Sietse Bakker, with the travel restrictions in mind, also started to lose hope in holding Eurovision 2020 in Rotterdam. He said:

“Like Shula said, over the past few days, it became more and more clear that it was not sustainable anymore. The EBU obviously takes note of the situation in the Netherlands, but also looks out for the situation in the other countries. 41 countries are taking part. There are thousands of people that will travel, that will stay somewhere, artists from all over the world. That is not sustainable anymore at a certain point. That is sad. There is a team that has worked very hard on it for months. To give a fantastic calling card from the Netherlands.”

The hardest moment, obviously, was telling the team of NPO, NOS and AVROTROS that the event was cancelled. Sietse recalls:

“It was a sad moment, because a dream is fading away. People worked really hard and that suddenly comes to a stop.”

He added that the team thinks that in comparison to all the sorrow that Covid-19 is bringing, the cancellation of Eurovision 2020 is only a small drama.

For detailed information about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and how to stay healthy, please visit the World Health Organisation web site.

Read all our Eurovision 2020 news here

 

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Friedenau
Friedenau
3 months ago

I still believe there were better solutions than a total cancellation. This was the most radical decision possible.I think they could have left an open door for a reduced version of the contest. Let’s say the situation gets better in a couple of months (it’s better already in China, with a vaccine in the making… so hopefully!)… I can’t believe that with all the technical resources there are available nowadays any of the delegations couldn’t have organised a (smaller) contest in Autumn (Sweden could have, I’m sure). I think that was more than possible. Go back to the roots of… Read more »

Perzo
Perzo
3 months ago
Reply to  Friedenau

There is no guarantee that the situation will become better by May. The EBU probably did risk assessments on all possible scenarios and thought that only option is the one thing that can guarantee safety for everyone is cancelation.

Many other music festivals scheduled in the coming months have so far been canceled. JESC is still up in the air while the next Eurovision event scheduled after May, Young Musicians, has also been canceled.

Loin dici
Loin dici
3 months ago

You guys need to remember that ESC isn’t financially stable without their audience tickets. Even if Eurovision 2020 will commence online, where will it source its money from? The Netherlands? Eventhough they won’t technically host?

Pavel
Pavel
3 months ago
Reply to  Loin dici

well, they could have scaled down the production to a non-LED concert hall event (like the pre-party one or something closer to what Eurovision was in the 1980s-1990s). there would have still been some work to do with sound technicians, but it would have been much less demanding financially.
I would take a rushed, scaled down, pre-party (Israel calling, Eurovision in Amsterdam or Madrid one) level of Eurovision in August-September over scrapping the whole thing. And maybe, as an exception, Rotterdam should have been allowed to host again, but as a full-scale event, in 2021.

ESCJudge
ESCJudge
3 months ago

I don’t think that ESC will be healed untill 2021… It will take time everything to get back on tack. It’s kind of… end of ESC that we got used to. Now it will be a few years of mess. EBU made a fatal amd destructive decision. It’s XXI century and therw are technical abilities to do a show without risking safety, but no. EBU made decision that is far from being modern. Ok, no live show in Rotterdam, give them money and they’ll should do ot next year. But this year we shouldn’t be left with nothing. Health is… Read more »

stommie
stommie
3 months ago

I am so very happy to read that so many people would love a toned down contest. Especially considering the drama in 2018 when Lisbon decided to skip LED screens. It is great how the fandom has matured in only two years.

ESCJudge
ESCJudge
3 months ago
Reply to  stommie

Portugeese made an arogant decision like: -we don’t want LED so we will abandon them for the others… apf! Nothing changed in that issue… selfish decision. ESC was the most modern tv production in the world. There should be the best technology available at the moment used to produce it. In Portugal it wasn’t the best available used as well as this year… there is technology that could be used to produce some kind of a show, different, but at least something respecting work of hundreds of people (artists, fans, jurnalists, blpggers, broadcasters, songwriters etc) but no. This decisions are… Read more »

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  ESCJudge

You can produce a modern TV production without the need of LED backdrops to make it as such.

ESCJudge
ESCJudge
3 months ago
Reply to  James

I said that it should be the best technology available at the moment used for ESC. Not that it should be LED used.
In Portugal there was no LED but also no other best available technologies used.

I said also that the decision not to use LED in Portugal was an arogant decision based mostly on comments like: we don’t want them so you won’t have it either.

Read carefully.

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  ESCJudge

How is it arrogant? If any, that only pushed delegations to be creative on how they want to stage their performances. Most uses of LED backdrops are purely cosmetic and performances tend to work without them.

Pavel
Pavel
3 months ago
Reply to  ESCJudge

No LED brought us creative decisions by Ireland, Moldova, Finland & Lithuania that year.
Germany had their own LED screen, Sweden went creative.
No LED was a refreshing change of pace.

Alex
Alex
3 months ago
Reply to  James

LED does’t mean modern tv lol. Melodifestivalen didn’t have it this year either.
At least Portugal 2018 had some personality and didn’t look and feel like copy/paste.
And we had great performances and stage shows that year

ESCJudge
ESCJudge
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Stage in Portugal looked good if you watched it in the arena or on a huge tv screen. But watching on smaller screen was exhausting… it was hard to find a performing person on stage. And yes… usage of LED doesn’t mean modern tv. I said twice, I’ll say it again for the idiots: It should be best available technology used at the best tv production. Portugal didn’t use that. Arrogance is pushing someone to do something your way just because you want it like that even if there are lot of people that wanted ESC stage to give more… Read more »

Pavel
Pavel
3 months ago
Reply to  ESCJudge

Israel also didn’t make full use of the best technologies available at the time, just like Sweden in 2016 and Ukraine in 2017.
Augmented reality, holograms and the visual effects looked too way cartoonish (Italy 2016, Bulgaria 2017)

ESCJudge
ESCJudge
3 months ago
Reply to  Pavel

Ukraine didn’t have money for best technologies but they managed to do something special… Sweden was pretty close to have it all but due to the structure of the Arena they couldn’t use it.

Portugal could do it because the venue was suitable for current best technlogy but they decided not to use it because they didn’t like it. Their decision -but argumented that they didn’t wan’t LED so they forbid using them for the others as well is just beeing arrogant selfish and xsenophobic. It’s my opinion based on arguments. End of topic for me.

Denis
Denis
3 months ago

The statement doesn’t make the Dutch look favourable. Is it being a “music party in sold out arenas ” the only thing that matters? Is that how the Dutch see ESC? As a income? They basically said it’s more about money and income than fans and uniting people. They wouldn’t have earned any money from other alternatives so they just cancelled it. Fans arent picky, we would be happy with a small studio shoot because it was something. But the Dutch wouldn’t..

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

The EBU cancelled it, not the Dutch.

Marc
Marc
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Either EBU or Dutch.. it’s so sad that money or having a big flashy show was priority. Not people or artists.
This was a good time to look back to Eurovision roots. Why it was made and unite people. Netherlands was in 1956. It felt right . Postpone and doing something humble could have been an option yet EBU didn’t want to face any problems.

Henry
Henry
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Denis, are you really that dumb? How many times do we have to say here that it’s the EBU who decides that Eurovision will be canceled and NOT the hosting country.. The Dutch broadcaster (NPO) got a phone call from the EBU that Eurovision was canceled.. The Dutch didn’t decide anything, so stop with these nonsense comments.

Vangelis
Vangelis
3 months ago

It was not sustainable to have the party we were hoping for and bring in the tourists even though there is all the technology to do it without everyone being at the same place. So we just canceled.

Shame on you. Shame!

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
3 months ago

Btw, I wonder how long it will take the EBU to present their “rules” for 2021 with regards to the songs. In a way, I’m thankful for the clarity that there won’t be a contest this year because as usually, the EBU provides no clarity over anything else whatsoever.

Stephen
Stephen
3 months ago

Also BBC would not cancelled it could have been held in studios and public could still vote for the songs

Henry
Henry
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

The BBC would also cancel it just like all other broadcasters in Europe, because it was the EBU who decided to cancel Eurovision not the Hosting country, how many times do we have to say that here before you realize that??

Harm
Harm
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

How would you do that with a total shutdown. Are you not thinking about the risks of getting infected with Corona. And a studio in the United Kingdom is much more professional than in for example Slovenia. That would not be fair. And as said it was the EBU and not the broadcast of the Netherlands. Let’s all enjoy the preparation for 2021.

Stephen
Stephen
3 months ago

You could have made other arrangements no excuse

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

And risk performers and crews to risk their lives for you?

Guest
Guest
3 months ago

Very sad that the Eurovision was cancelled just to secure that the Netherlands should have a full-scale final in 2021. In such times of crisis, the event could very well have been streamed with Rotterdam in its centre and everybody involved, not least the artists. would have understood perfectly why this just had to be so. But as that would most probably mean another country would arrange next year Eurovision, the EBU apparently cancelled it only to not disappoint the 2020 organization team.

Victoria Stan
Victoria Stan
3 months ago

Also, the fact that the olympics ( a month long even in asia) has not been canceled and eurovision has been canceled makes me pissed off. It just goes to show how sports are more favored than other arts. When it comes to Eurovision, there are many ways to avoid a large gathering, but with sports, what are you gonna do? virtually play basketball? no! Personally, I don’t think eurovision should have been outright canceled.

Victoria Stan
Victoria Stan
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Stan

a month long event***

Lilli Eurofan
Lilli Eurofan
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Stan

It’s all about money. The dutch broadcaster wants the chance to host a real Eurovision show. They don’t want to host a video song contest and then pass the trophy to another country that then gets the chance to host a normal Eurovision show next year. The dutch have waited 40 years for this. They will wait another year to host it. Giving this chance away would make them loose a lot of money and prestige.

Polegend Godgarina
3 months ago
Reply to  Lilli Eurofan

you ain’t making the dutch look good with this statement…

Henry
Henry
3 months ago

neither you, with that comment..

Marc
Marc
3 months ago
Reply to  Lilli Eurofan

Dutch have waited 40 years ok. Other countries had the real chance of winning for the 1st and it’s over. Not to mention all hard work and hope from artists.
And What’s a real Eurovision show? Maybe this time we needed something simple and humble. If having a big show is what matters the most, then we are losing Eurovision’ spirit and why it’s been alive every year all these decades

Victoria Stan
Victoria Stan
3 months ago

The mass hysteria of the media forced eurovision to close. COVID-19 is nowhere near as deadly as other diseases tuberculosis and other pandemics in the past and the tv broadcast idea would have been a better choice. Even though it’s not “eurovisiony” people still need that sense of togetherness and happiness eurovision would bring during a pandemic. I don’t think the choice was right and the fact that the delegations were not talked to beforehand makes me mad.

Lilli Eurofan
Lilli Eurofan
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Stan

Sorry but are you serious? Have you seen whats going on in France and Italy?
I am happy that the EBU made that choice. I just wish that we will see most of the artists from this year again next year and that Rotterdam gets the chance to host it the same way like they would have done it in 2020.
I don’t know where you live but calling Covid-19 “nowhere near as deadly as other diseases” or saying it is “mass hystria” just shows that you are extremely naive.

Denis
Denis
3 months ago
Reply to  Lilli Eurofan

It’s not as deadly as other viruses, it’s relatively mild compared to others but it spreads more easily which is where the danger lies. But it’s far from killing you instantly..

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Are you from the World Health Organization?

Leanne
Leanne
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria Stan

It’s not about it being particularly deadly (even though it can be, especially for old people or people with a compromised health condition). The problem with COVID-19 is, more importantly, that it spreads really easily and it can be spread even when a person shows no symptoms. Even if you were to get Coronavirus and likely survive it, in the meantime you risk spreading it to the people who are very vulnerable to it, possibly without realizing it. What this means is that the number of people who get put in intensive care rises dramatically, with a real risk of… Read more »

Alex
Alex
3 months ago

EBU taking such important decision without broadcasters or even talking to delegations is not a good thing. It should have been a real talk.
Crisis can be solved if everybody work together into the same direction. That’s also the spirit of Eurovision.

Bella
Bella
3 months ago

It was the right decision. But I feel sad for the Netherlands who had been waiting 40 years to host and looked like they were doing an amazing job. I also feel sad for Lithuania, Malta, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Iceland, … All countries who have never won (or not in a long time in the case of CH) and who looked like they could do it this year.

Polegend Godgarina
3 months ago

as expected, it’s all about the money! they didn’t want to risk losing one cent. how lame, lazy and convenient for the ebu.

Lilli Eurofan
Lilli Eurofan
3 months ago

Rotterdam wants to host a real Eurovision show. They don’t want a “video contest” and then pass the trophy to another country. There are countries in Europe that suffer..Countries that have no time for a song contest at the moment. We all have to get our sh*t together and kill this disease.. Next year we can celebrate the sh*t out of Eurovision ’21 in Rotterdam.

James
James
3 months ago

How did you even get to that conclusion?

Denis
Denis
3 months ago

If EBU were willing to offer Julia satellite performance in 2017, why wasn’t that an option this year? Every performer at a studio from home bing linked to Rotterdam. Especially since it apparently was Plan B..
Maybe because they wouldn’t earn money from it?

IVANOV
IVANOV
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

They just not wanted Russia to win. If UNO wouldn’t have 35M views believe me they would have find a way for the plan B. But Russia this year would have destroyed the televote and win even with rigged juries.

Edo Ed
Edo Ed
3 months ago
Reply to  IVANOV

You really think eurovision is cancelled because of russia??

Alex
Alex
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

They want all artists and fans in the same place. All artists performing remotely was probably the worst idea I have ever seen.

Denis
Denis
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex

But is having a great show the only thing that matters? I think us fans would have settled for something small just to have something in these though times

Fatima
Fatima
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

For that reason, I would have even settled for an audio-only contest, available on the radio and in podcasts. But I seem to be the only one to think that.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago

I still haven’t heard a satisfactory explanation as to why the contest couldn’t be held remotely. I thought this was plan B? I didn’t like Shula Rijxman’s comments that the contest is really a party for the ticket-buyers. The primary audience is the home viewers, which number in the millions. The decisions should not be made based on a privileged few.

OhOkay
OhOkay
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Because even with the Plan B, which would have been the studio edition via streaming, there would still have been too many people in the studio than it is currently allowed. Also, holding it without an audience still doesn’t solve the problem, because there would still be 500+ people in the stadium a.k.a. a closed space, just from the delegations, volunteers, executives, etc. alone. That by itself is way too many again, since all public events with over 10 people (3, in some countries) have been forbidden. Some also say it’s the “ticket revenue” factor, but honestly, they wouldn’t have… Read more »

IVANOV
IVANOV
3 months ago
Reply to  OhOkay

Who sayed the plan B would be aired on may. They could have go to the plan B in october/november. If by this time there are still lock down measures in Europe and the world then it means WW3. You can not let people in prison for 6 months.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  OhOkay

My priorities are in order, thank you. I accept their decision to cancel, I’m just not fully convinced that they exhausted all options. I’m aware of the impossibilities of holding the event in the Ahoy, with or without an audience. I do think a contest could still be held in some format without it being a huge television production. The contest is more important than the “event” and I think they have it backwards.

Kim
Kim
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

The contest is expensive to hold and there’s no way the contest would have gone ahead without any ticket sales. I’m not sure how much revenue is created by ticket sales but it would not be financially viable as an option to have a contest to an empty arena. It’s a major disappointment to us fans but no doubt the contest will return bigger and better next year.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Ticket sales are not relevant. A scaled down satellite event would be only a fraction of the expense of the usual production. Before the 2000s, tickets were not even available for purchase – it was by application or invitation only – and they managed just fine.

Diego
Diego
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

There are a few reasons the contest could not be held remotely. Firstly, even at home studios, there are still a large number of people required to set up and broadcast a performance, which would be dangerous and potentially even illegal given the restrictions of gatherings of people put in place in various countries. Secondly, and this is rather subjective, the feel would not be the same and it would not be as unified of a contest. And thirdly, broadcasting is expensive and not all countries have equal budgets; a big part of the contest is the ability for all… Read more »

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Diego

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with any of that, all I’m saying is that I haven’t heard that rationale from the EBU. I do think that each country would be able to cobble something together, be it live or pre-recorded.

Lilli Eurofan
Lilli Eurofan
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I can tell you the reason:
If NOS, NPO, Avotros had produced a video contest we would have had a winner. This winning country would have had the chance to host Eurovision 2021. And dutch wouln’t have had any real Eurovision show. They would have passes the trophy to the next country and at the same time they would have lost millions of Euros. by this descision the dutch broadcaster gets the chance to host a real Eurovision show next year. With a audience and with the artists actually being on that stage!

Denis
Denis
3 months ago
Reply to  Lilli Eurofan

That statement doesn’t make the Dutch look better. It’s basically saying we care more about money and income than fans and uniting people. Is having a spectacular show the only thing that matters?

Lilli Eurofan
Lilli Eurofan
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Do you think millions of europeans will turn on the TV and watch a video contest?

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Lilli Eurofan

Yes.

Stranger
Stranger
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I can only speak for myself but personally I wouldn’t have watched a video contest. I want a live show in a big arena. The ESC is a big event and deserves it. Btw. some people are complaining that it’s always about the money. Lol. Well yeah, money is an important aspect. We’re talking about a lot of money here. The ESC wouldn’t even be a thing if it didn’t made enough money. That’s life. We all should be happy that the ESC is selling and doing well. The more money they make the better for us, for the quality… Read more »

Robert
Robert
3 months ago
Reply to  Denis

I think the organization meaning EBU and the Dutch broadcasters and the city of Rotterdam had our best interest in mind.. We can all pout however long we want. Boohoo no Eurovision but people are dying, as much as I love it but there’s much more important things right now.. Besides the Netherlands deserve a full show, why is that so hard to understand?

Fatima
Fatima
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I agree with you all the way Jonas. It is, and always was, primarily a broadcast event. On TV and radio. For years for hardly ever saw an audience. Everyone now and again Terry Wogan would say “that’s gone done well in the hall”, but we always knew it wasn’t them deciding the result. At the end of the day, the EBU decided it had to be all or nothing.

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I am completely with Jonas on this. Eurovision was first and remains primarily a broadcast. The event broadcasts music from across Europe to bring us together and unify in celebration. The coronavirus situation is a time when we need such broadcasts. This decision should not be about a leisure class or the privileged few who will miss a concert in an arena, this decision should be about the hundreds of millions of people watching and listening from their homes and workplaces across the continent. The EBU have woefully missed a chance to host something in a time of crisis. They… Read more »

Robert
Robert
3 months ago

I think the news is just sinking in.. 🙁 feel really sad and especially for the organization, delegations, singers and the fans.. Rotterdam 2021 should be made possible, we can all agree on that.. Just wondering if the logo will change, can imagine it all be a bit old when 2021 comes around.. Still Corona should be gone first before we start worrying about side stuff.. Be well everyone

Kirby
Kirby
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert

It’s a detail, but I was wondering about the visual identity and slogan too. Yes, I think they might change it as that “cockade” that depicts ESC timeline is now kind of “broken” in 2020. I guess the 2021 slogan might to some extent reflect a post-Covid19 feeling, in terms of celebrating life again, with music and joy.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
3 months ago

But… Now that there’s no competition at all, I think it’s more than obvious that the host city of 2021 will be Rotterdam. And they already have pretty much everything ready as far as planning and staging goes, so those dreams are not cancelled, just delayed for a year. I know the EBU is awful and can’t be helped mentally, but now that Rootterdam already said ‘we still wanna do it’, what is there to think about? They’ll still be the current Eurovision winners in 2021 thanks to the EBU and I guess corona.

Stephanie
3 months ago

I really hope that 2021 can be re-staged in Rotterdam. After all, the Netherlands won the right to host, and that Sietse’s dream can finally become reality

DUARTE C7
DUARTE C7
3 months ago

Hope the same team will maintain for ESC 2021 you all deserved that chance.

I’ll Be Back
I’ll Be Back
3 months ago

If all of the songs are going to be reselected for Eurovision 2021, could this year’s contest not go ahead in some form online? Maybe with a livestream taking place, and previous (or new) videos live performances of all 41 songs being shown back to back preceded by short VTs recorded by the artists on their phones (in place of the usual postcards). Then people watching from all 41 countries get the opportunity to vote as usual and someone from each country with a spreadsheet that gets verified sends in that country’s results? I think this would be a nice… Read more »

Alex
Alex
3 months ago

I feel so sad for Sietse.