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.”
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Eurovision 2020 executive producer Sietse Bakker told Dutch broadcaster NOS that he thinks freezing Eurovision 2020 tickets until next year is the appropriate option if Rotterdam hosts the contest next year. . “We have now said that we should leave the tickets where they are at the moment, namely with the people. So if we manage to do Eurovision 2021, the tickets will remain valid.” ————— #Eurovision #ESC2020 #ESC2021 @sietsebakker
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.
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