While Eurovision 2020 was cancelled, the European Broadcasting Union is insistent that next year’s edition will go ahead. Along with the change that will allow pre-recorded backing vocals to be used, the EBU has also been making some tweaks to the Eurovision 2021 rules to ensure that the song contest will take place, no matter what.
The EBU aren’t giving away any specifics, but they have made clear that there have been changes to the official rules.
In a Q&A section in yesterday’s announcement, the EBU talk about how the rules have been changed so that they are “able to make modifications to the format of the shows and the organization of the event that would allow the Contest to still take place despite restrictions imposed on us by a now unknown scenario.”
They also note that the 2020 rules did not allow such changes to be made, which might explain why Eurovision 2020 could not be turned into an “at home”, lockdown-friendly competition.
The EBU aren’t saying what specific changes could happen, suggesting that for the moment at least, it’s all theoretical. They are, however, still focused on a classic Eurovision show, “in a packed arena with fans and delegations.”
Martin Österdahl explains
Martin Österdahl, the EBU’s new Executive Supervisor of Eurovision, has elaborated on the future of Eurovision in a press release. He explains that “The focus of the ESC team and the Host Broadcasters in the Netherlands now is to bring the Contest back stronger than ever in 2021. Our current efforts are not just focused on delivering a Contest next spring in Rotterdam but also securing the ESCs longevity for decades to come.”
He explains that there has always had a contingency plan to move Eurovision if faced with a crisis in the host country. However, the sort of problems caused by a global crisis required a new set of backup plans.
What did the Eurovision 2020 rules say?
The Eurovision 2020 rules clearly spelt out the format of the contest. It describes the contest being “composed of three live shows, two Semi-Finals usually taking place annually, generally in May, on Tuesdays and on Thursdays and one Final taking place on Saturdays in the country of the Host Broadcaster.”
The rules also describe Eurovision as “a state-of-the-art, prime-time entertainment programme, world-class television production.”
These rules anchor the show to a particular type of format, with shows held in the host country. It is possible that the 2021 rules permit changes to this format to allow the competition to still be valid if Covid-adjustments are needed.
View this post on Instagram
Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl has revealed that the EBU will give broadcasters the option to use pre-recorded backing vocals during Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam. It’s meant to help create a more sustainable contest. Among other benefits, delegations would be able to travel with fewer people. Österdahl explained that the EBU is relaxing the rules on backing vocalists singing live in order to help countries cope with new realities. “The lessons learned from the spring of 2020 are that we need to plan for a global crisis, and we have tailored the rules of the Contest to that effect. We must be able to be more flexible and to make changes even to the format itself and how we organize the event in these challenging times.” “As organizers of the world’s largest live music event we are determined and united in our mission; to bring back a Contest, a new winner and a handover to a new Host Broadcaster. These elements are in our DNA and part of our legacy.” #esc2021 #eurovision #eurovisionsongcontest #eurovision2021
What hurdles could Eurovision 2021 face?
Currently, the Dutch government has effectively banned all large events until 1 September. If this rule is extended beyond that date, it could affect the ability to hold Eurovision 2021.
But with so much around the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic being unknown, it’s difficult to predict how things will be in September, or indeed in May 2021.
One possibility is for Eurovision 2021 to go ahead with no live audience — much like the Danish national final earlier this year, or the second half of the Spanish talent show Operación Triunfo.
Or could the event have a live audience, but a socially distant live audience? Could this mean an all-seated show to avoid the close contact of the standing area?
Or given that some countries may be at different states than others, would the show be able to accommodate some acts who were unable to travel internationally due to border restrictions? Could live performance from another country be slotted into the show via satellite?
But at this stage, it’s impossible to know for sure what Eurovision 2021 will be like. One thing is certain though — the EBU are determined that Eurovision 2021 will happen!
What do you think? What sort of back-up plans should the EBU have? Would you be happy watching a scaled-down Eurovision show? Tell us your thoughts and ideas below.