With large parts of Europe in lockdown, it’s hard for many to imagine that Eurovision will take place with a large audience. Eurovision 2021 presenter Edsilia Rombley has shared her thoughts on the matter on NPO Radio 1, saying that she also understands that it’s hard to imagine that happening.
Several Dutch media (including RTL Nieuws and new aggregator NU.nl) initially misinterpreted her statement as a confirmation that scenario A — which sees the contest being held as we last knew it in Tel Aviv in 2019 — was no longer under consideration.
However, Eurovision 2021 Executive Producer Sietse Bakker has told Eurovision fan and Twitter user @CalmAfterTheTim that this is not the case and that all scenarios are still on the table. Speaking after the Edsilia story erupted in Dutch media, Sietse wrote the following in a direct message.
Okay, so I DM'ed Sietse Bakker and he says:
– 9 shows in a full Ahoy seems far away, but a decision has not been made yet. They will make the 1st decisions in a few weeks from now
– Countries wouldn't be allowed to do more than what would be possible in Rotterdam to make it fair pic.twitter.com/KsFFcp9XSv
— Timcade (@CalmAfterTheTim) January 19, 2021
“Hi! That has not been decided and that is also not what Edsilia said. [RTL] Boulevard explained it incorrectly, sadly.”
“With regards to your comment on the live-on-tape backup. We hope we can expect the artists in the Netherlands, that is how it should be. But if that were not possible, then the broadcasters have the freedom to do it themselves. There are demands involved around it: it has to be in a studio-like setting and they are only allowed to stage an act that would have been possible in Rotterdam too. They are not allowed to surpass the level of Rotterdam. I understand what you say about ‘fair competition’, but you shouldn’t forget that in some countries, also in a normal year, they are investing a lot of money in an act.”
Executive Producer Sietse Bakker understands concerns
The Eurovision 2021 Executive Producer also understands that people might find it hard to imagine that scenario A or even scenario B would happen. In an interview with the newspaper Trouw, Sietse acknowledged as much.
“I understand that people say [that scenario A or B won’t happen]. But we are not ashamed to hold even the tiniest piece of hope. You can always scale down. If you talk to the different countries, you notice that the attitude is very dependent on the local situation. The Brits are more pessimistic than the Israelis. That’s logical, but also very fascinating. In one country, you should be careful with creating too many expectations, with another, you have to tell them to be more hopeful.
For us, D is, by the way, not the worst case scenario. A show becomes much more colourful and richer with all these broadcasts from different countries. But the best would be to have everyone here. No, the worst scenario would be that we will be in Ahoy later and we have he feeling that we haven’t done the most to make the best Eurovision under the given circumstances. That we left chances unused and that we weren’t flexible enough.”
The chosen scenario in February does not have to be final
In that same interview with Trouw, Bakker said that the scenario pathways are actually not as rigid as they were initially announced.
Sietse confirmed that the Dutch Eurovision team managed to create just one plan to match with any of the four initial scenarios. In the end, Eurovision will not have to be limited to what is chosen in mid-February, when the EBU will make its final verdict on the situation.
According to Sietse, Ahoy Rotterdam and the Dutch Eurovision team can still scale the contest up in the time between February and May.
Looking back on his earlier press conferences, Sietse thinks that the announcement of the scenarios won’t be as vital as he first thought. He said:
“Last year, I saw a dramatic moment in which I, with a drum roll in the background, would announce the chosen scenario. I think that it won’t be that spectacular in the end.”
“We will decide things in the first half of February. It will be realistic story. In April we will build the stage. The arrival of the artists will be in the second week of May. We will only do it when it’s responsible, and in collaboration with the municipality, the safety region and the responsible ministries.”