Eurovision Song Contest travel ‘necessary’, organisers say

Artists from 41 countries will appear live at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands under plans set out by the event’s organisers.

Executive supervisor Martin Osterdahl told the BBC it was „necessary“ for participants to travel to Rotterdam.

„This isn’t a holiday trip, this is actually a job that needs to be done,“ he said, adding that a decision had yet to be made on a possible live audience.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The contest is due to take place in Rotterdam in May this year. Dutch singer Duncan Laurence won the competition in 2019 with the song Arcade.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newscast podcast, Mr Osterdahl said the latest plans were developed following discussions with organisers of other international live events.

„We have been in close contact with organisations like Formula 1, the tennis tour, the golf associations, and learned from best experiences,“ he said.

„We’ve compared our plans to the likes of the IOC [International Olympic Committee].“

Mr Osterdahl said it had not yet been decided if an audience should attend the live event, but that organisers were hoping for „the most normal Eurovision song contest that we can“.

„Hopefully we’ll have some audience, it makes a huge difference to the atmosphere of the broadcast if we have some people present.“

He said, however, that delegations would be smaller than usual – limited to 20 people, down from an average of 38 – and that health and safety measures to be put in place were „very thorough“.

Eurovision presenters like Graham Norton, who commentates for the UK’s BBC coverage, will broadcast from ventilated commentary booths under the plans.

Contestants had earlier been asked to produce a „live-on-tape“ performance ahead of the competition, with the videos to be used if artists were unable to travel due to the pandemic, or forced to quarantine at the venue.

All 41 countries who were scheduled to compete in 2020 will return this year, as will many of the contestants who were supposed to take part last year. However, all artists will be required to perform a different song.

Returning entrants include Ireland’s Lesley Roy and Iceland’s Dadi Freyr, who was tipped as a potential winner.

New coronavirus cases have been falling in most European countries, however some are seeing a rise in infections.

Lockdown measures – including travel restrictions and quarantine requirements – were tightened in many of the worst-affected countries over the winter, but some restrictions are now being lifted.

The Netherlands has recorded more than a million cases of Covid-19 and 15,775 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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