The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Rotterdam in May, organisers have said, but the usual format will be “impossible”.
The European Broadcasting Union, which produces the annual competition, said it was looking at a “scenario B” featuring in-person performances and socially distanced audiences.
The 65th edition of Eurovision was one of the first high-profile cancellations of the coronavirus pandemic.
The @EBU_HQ, @PubliekeOmroep, @NOS, @AVROTROS & @rotterdam have agreed a determined, yet realistic approach to #ESC2021.#Eurovision will definitely make its welcome return in May!
Read more about our planning 👉 https://t.co/gV69sxSF2J pic.twitter.com/93pNkY0IVJ
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) February 3, 2021
The 41 acts scheduled to compete eventually featured in a non-competitive virtual show on the weekend the final would have taken place.
To ensure the show goes ahead in 2021, the EBU created four scenarios, from the usual format to an entirely remote one.
They are now focusing on “scenario B” in which everyone attending Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena would need to practise social distancing and submit to measures including frequent Covid-19 testing.
Acts who can travel to Rotterdam will perform live on stage, while those unable to will feature in recorded performances.
Organisers described it as “a determined yet realistic approach in the final phase of preparations”, but said they would be keeping the option of downscaling on the table.
Scenario C would see the show, featuring hosts and interval acts, presented from Rotterdam but the delegations and artists would submit recorded performances, while scenario D would be entirely remote and would be likely in the event of a new lockdown in the Netherlands.
A further decision on the fate of the contest will be taken in the coming weeks.
The contest’s executive supervisor Martin Osterdahl said: “The Eurovision Song Contest will definitely make its welcome return this May despite the pandemic but, in the prevailing circumstances, it is regrettably impossible to hold the event in the way we are used to.
“The security, health and safety of all participants at the Eurovision Song Contest, from the crew to the artists, is our top priority.
“We are following international developments closely and continuing to explore and plan for three revised scenarios (B, C and D) first announced last autumn.
“We’re grateful for the renewed commitment and backing from the City of Rotterdam and the ongoing support of all the participating broadcasters.
“We very much hope to be able to gather in Rotterdam in May and will do all we can in the coming weeks to achieve this.
“With an ever-changing situation we are taking our time to ensure that we can host the Eurovision Song Contest in the best and safest way possible.”
The United Kingdom has yet to announce who will be competing in 2021 but James Newman, last year’s pick, has said he hopes to have a second chance.
At the 2019 contest the UK came in last place with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us, while the Netherlands came top with Duncan Laurence’s Arcade.
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest will take place on May 22.