Eurovision Song Contest to Allow COVID-Tested Audiences

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The Dutch government has granted permission for up to 3,500 fans to attend the popular Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals and finals in Rotterdam in May.

The semi-finals are scheduled for May 18 and 20 and the finals on May 22 at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena. The Dutch city was due to host the contest in 2020 before the event was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be nine shows in total, including six rehearsals, the two semi-finals and the final. A maximum of 3,500 spectators, or half the venue’s capacity are allowed to be present after a negative coronavirus test.

“We welcome this decision by the Dutch government and the possibility that we can invite fans to join us as we bring the Eurovision Song Contest back in May,” said Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest. “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. The health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority.”

The contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). “All delegations, artists and production crew will be following a strict protocol and would not come in contact with potential members of the audience under any circumstances,” the EBU said.

Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager will be the presenters.

The Netherlands is not completely out of the woods as far as COVID-19 is concerned, with the current lockdown being extended to Apr. 20. The Eurovision Song Contest organizers have contingency scenarios in case the situation worsens, including no audiences and pre-recorded acts.

In recent weeks, the Dutch government has held a series of test mass events including concerts, music festivals, theater performances and soccer games, admitting COVID-negative audiences.

According to the country’s National Institute for Public Health and Environment, 51,866 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the last week, with 171 deaths.