Monday 19 April 2021

Eurovision can go ahead with limited audience, Dutch organisers say

The Ahoy in Rotterdam will host the contest. Photo: Ahoy Rotterdam via Wikimedia Commons

There will be an audience at this year’s Eurovision Song Festival event in Rotterdam in May, the organisers have confirmed.

Government officials have agreed to use the contest, which involves 39 countries, as a further test to monitor how larger events can be organized safely during the pandemic.

All nine shows – six rehearsals, two semi finals and the final – can be attended by a maximum of 3,500 people – all of whom must have a valid negative test result to be allowed in.

That is around half the number of people who would have been expected to attend the regular event. Travel restrictions mean that only fans in the Netherlands already will be able to buy tickets.

The decision to allow in the public is ‘something we dreamed about,’ the show’s producer Sietse Bakker told broadcaster NOS. ‘We are very grateful to the cabinet and to Fieldlab for the confidence they have shown in us.’

Dutch media minister Arie Slob, however, sounded a note of caution and said in the Telegraaf that a final decision will be made at the end of April. And if there is a new flare-up of coronavirus, then the audience could be told to stay at home, he said.

The European Broadcasting Union has welcomed the news that the festival can go ahead.

‘We will consider the options now available and announce more details in the coming weeks on how we can safely admit audiences to the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam should the situation allow,’ Martin Österdahl said. ‘The health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority.’

This year’s Dutch entry, performed by Jeangu Macrooy, is Birth of a new age.


Eurovision is just one of many events which have been opened to the public as an experiment.

Last weekend, 5,000 supporters were allowed to watch the Oranje – Latvia World Cup qualifier. Other experiments have involved festivals, a conference and a theatre performance.

On Wednesday, RTL Nieuws reported that the government plans give the green light to many more events in the coming weeks, including museums and at a casino.

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