Mass events on a national scale will not take place in The Netherlands until there is a vaccine against the coronavirus. That’s the message from The Netherlands’ Minister for Health Hugo de Jonge. His words come in a letter sent to the Dutch parliament, as reported by Dutch media NOS. The letter outlines the next steps for the country as it begins to ease its lockdown restrictions.
Naturally that raises questions about Eurovision 2021. The song contest is without question a massive event. It draws tens of thousands of spectators on top of thousands of delegates, contestants and crew, and crams many of them into large-scale venues. Holding an event like this without a vaccine in widespread use would, of course, be irresponsible. And that’s clearly not something the Dutch would consider.
“For the last step, that’s massive events on a national scale, we can not yet give a date [for them to resume],” De Jonge wrote. “That is only possible once there is a vaccine, and no one knows how long that will take. Of course we hope soon, but a year or more is very likely.”
The race is on to develop an effective vaccine. Some scientists have claimed they can have an effective vaccine ready within six months. But such an estimate is considered very optimistic. Leading scientists and health experts around the world have repeatedly said that developing a vaccine for the disease is at least a year to 18 months away. And we need to emphasise the at least bit of that sentence. Vaccine development is usually measured on a scale of years.
Could Eurovision 2021 take place without a coronavirus vaccine?
Put it all together and it seems that Eurovision in its traditional form — with a massive audience in a crowded arena — would not be able take place without a vaccine. Of course, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t take place in another form — perhaps without an audience.
Germany – which has been applauded for its response to the pandemic — is preparing to resume play in the Bundesliga. It will become the first major football league in Europe to return to competition when it resumes later this month. Its matches will be played behind closed doors without any spectators.
In late April, Japan’s top medical association said it was unlikely that the Tokyo Olympics — which have already been postponed to July and August 2021 — can take place without the development of a vaccine.
“In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed,” Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura said.
Even if Japan has its pandemic under control at that point, there would be concerns about all the international athletes and spectators gathering in one place. The fact is other countries may not have their pandemic under control, so visitors from these countries could pose a risk to people at the Games.
“If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the Games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world.”
The country’s Prime Minister recently echoed these sentiments in an address to Parliament.
“The Olympic Games must be held in a way that shows the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Otherwise, it will be difficult to hold them.”
Are you optimistic that a vaccine will be developed? Would you be OK with Eurovision being “played behind closed doors” as the Bundesliga? Shout out your thoughts down below!