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The Eurovision Song Contest 2020 was planned to be the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest would have taken place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, following the country’s victory at the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the song “Arcade” performed by Duncan Laurence. This would have been the fifth time that the Netherlands hosted the contest, the last edition having been the 1980 contest, and the first Eurovision event to be hosted in the country since the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2012. The contest would have been held at Rotterdam Ahoy.
It was originally scheduled to consist of two semifinals on 12 and 14 May, and a final on 16 May 2020. Forty-one countries would have participated in the contest. Bulgaria and Ukraine would have returned after their absences from the 2019 contest, while Hungary and Montenegro confirmed their non-participation after taking part in the previous edition.
However, on 18 March 2020, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that the event would be cancelled because of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Europe. This marks the first time in the contest’s 64-year history that it has been cancelled. Following its cancellation, the organising European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is discussing carryovers for the 2021 contest, such as host city and participating artists, with various parties.
The 2020 contest was to be held at Rotterdam Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It would have been the fifth time the Netherlands hosts the contest, following the country’s victory at the 2019 edition with the song “Arcade”, performed by Duncan Laurence. Rotterdam Ahoy had previously hosted the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007.
Preparations for the 2020 contest began on 19 May 2019, immediately after the Netherlands won the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv, Israel. Jon Ola Sand, the executive supervisor of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for the contest, handed AVROTROS, the Dutch participating broadcaster, a stack of documents and a USB drive with tools to begin the work needed to host the next contest. AVROTROS was co-organising the event with sister broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and their parent public broadcasting organisation, Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO).
Already prior to the 2019 contest, when bookmakers expected Laurence to win, several Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague and Maastricht, announced their intent to host the contest should Laurence win. A spokesperson for NPO also stated that the broadcaster had a rough plan for how they would select the host city in the event of a Dutch victory. When Laurence won the contest, mayors of various municipalities immediately began lobbying Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, through text messages. Public figures, including Laurence, Esther Hart, Getty Kaspers and André Rieu, publicly voiced their support for their respective favourite host cities.
The hosting broadcasters launched the bidding process on 29 May 2019. In the first phase of this process, cities were to formally apply to bid. Nine cities—Amsterdam, Arnhem, Breda, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Hague, Leeuwarden, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Utrecht—did so and received a list of criteria they and their venues needed to meet on 12 June 2019. Initially, Zwolle had also considered launching a bid to host the event but the city ultimately decided against doing so because it deemed its venue, the IJsselhallen, to have unsuitable proportions.Enschede could have been a potential host city as Enschede Airport Twente considered bidding to host the event in its eleventh hangar, however, it later learned that Enschede’s municipality executive board had decided against financially supporting such a bid.
From this point on, these nine cities had until 10 July 2019 to compile their bid books to demonstrate their capabilities to host the contest. Further cities were still able to join in on the bidding race by applying prior to the deadline. During this period, four cities withdrew. Amsterdam could not host the contest because it was preoccupied with hosting other events during the contest’s time frame. Breda dropped out due to financial concerns. Leeuwarden ceased bidding due to the insufficient height of the ceiling of its WTC Expo. The Hague dropped its bid because both of its potential venues were unsuitable for the event. The local Cars Jeans Stadion football stadium would have been large enough but lacked a roof, and installing such a roof would have made the bid financially unviable. Its other option would have been spanning a tent over the Malieveld field, but after reviewing the hosting conditions, this option fell out of favour. Following its withdrawal, The Hague turned to support Rotterdam’s bid instead.
The five remaining cities—Arnhem, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Utrecht—delivered their finished bid books to a ceremonial event held in Hilversum on 10 July 2019. The hosting broadcasters reviewed the bids presented and on 16 July 2019 announced that it eliminated those for Arnhem, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht, shortlisting only Maastricht and Rotterdam. Utrecht was specifically eliminated because its proposal to span a tent over its Jaarbeurs offered limited possibilities for testing on location and had a questionable suitability for events like the Eurovision Song Contest, while ‘s-Hertogenbosch was dropped due to an insufficient ceiling height in its Brabanthallen and too few hotel rooms blocked for potential visitors of the contest.
To review and discuss the location, venue and surrounding events for the remaining bids, NPO visited Maastricht on 17 July 2019 and Rotterdam on the following day. By late July, additional visits to the two shortlisted cities were deemed necessary to review production logistics. The EBU did not pay visits to either city. Maastricht and Rotterdam were to hand in revised versions of their bid books by 9 August 2019 to add details involving the cities’ social programmes, side-events and programme licensing. A “concept agreement” was put before the organisers in both Maastricht and Rotterdam in August 2019. While Rotterdam signed this agreement, the city council of Maastricht discussed and rejected it. Within the same council session, it was also clarified that the MECC would not receive additional renovations. On 30 August, Rotterdam was announced as the host city during a special broadcast on NPO 1 and NPO 2.
|Arnhem||GelreDome||Joint bid with the city of Nijmegen and the Veluwe region.|||
|‘s-Hertogenbosch||Brabanthallen||Candidacy was supported by the province of North Brabant and the cities of Breda, Eindhoven, Tilburg and Helmond.|||
|Maastricht||MECC Maastricht ‡||Candidacy was supported by the province of Limburg and surrounding cities.|||
|Rotterdam||Rotterdam Ahoy †||Candidacy was supported by the province of South Holland and the cities of Dordrecht and The Hague. The venue previously hosted the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007.|||
The Eurovision Village would have been erected to serve as the official Eurovision Song Contest fan and sponsors’ area during the events week. There, it would have been possible to watch performances by local artists, as well as the live shows broadcast from the main venue. The Binnenrotte was the planned location for the Village. The Binnenrotte is one of the largest open spaces in the centre of Rotterdam. It is located in the heart of the city, next to one of Rotterdam’s most famous architectural marvels, the Markthal.
The EuroClub would have been the venue for the official after-parties and private performances by contest participants. Unlike the Eurovision Village, access to the EuroClub would be restricted to accredited fans, delegates, and press. It would have been located at the Maassilo. Maassilo is located on Rotterdam’s waterfront at Maashaven Zuidzijde, a 10-minute drive from Rotterdam Ahoy.
The “Golden Carpet” and Opening Ceremony events, where the contestants and their delegations present themselves in front of the accredited press and fans, would have taken place at the Rotterdam Cruise Terminal on 10 May 2020.
The contest’s slogan, “Open Up”, was unveiled on 24 October 2019. The official logo and branding was unveiled on 28 November 2019. Designed by CLEVER°FRANKE, it is “an abstract representation of the flag colours of the 41 countries participating in 2020 by first appearance to the contest”.
The EBU revealed the stage design for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in December 2019. The design is inspired by the slogan “Open Up” and the typical Dutch flat landscape. The Eurovision stage was designed by German stage designer Florian Wieder, who also designed the stages for the contests in 2011–12, 2015, and 2017–19. Unlike the previous contest, the green room was placed inside to the main performance venue.
The contest would have been hosted by three presenters: actress and television host Chantal Janzen, singer and commentator for the contest Jan Smit, and singer Edsilia Rombley, who represented the Netherlands in the 1998 and 2007 contests. Beauty vlogger Nikkie de Jager (NikkieTutorials) would have been the presenter of the contest’s online content, including a behind-the-scenes YouTube series to be recorded with the participating artists. She would have also reported from the red carpet during the opening ceremony and was scheduled to make an appearance in all three live shows on 12, 14 and 16 May 2020.Roos Moggré and Andrew Makkinga would have hosted the contest’s press conferences.
Semi-final allocation draw
The draw to determine the participating countries’ semifinals took place on 28 January 2020, at Rotterdam’s City Hall. The thirty-five semifinalists were divided over five pots, based on historical voting patterns as calculated by the contest’s official televoting partner Digame. Drawing from different pots helps to reduce the chance of so-called “bloc voting” and increases suspense in the semifinals. The draw also determined which semifinal each of the six automatic qualifiers – the Big Five plus the Netherlands – has to broadcast and vote in. The ceremony was hosted by contest presenters Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit and Edsilia Rombley, and included the passing of the host city insignias from Zippi Brand Frank, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv (host city of the previous contest) to Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4||Pot 5|
The Spanish Head of Delegation revealed on 22 October 2019 that the EBU was consulting with delegations on potential changes to the voting system. The Greek Head of Delegation revealed on 30 October 2019 that the majority of delegations (80%) voted in favour of maintaining the current voting system.
The concept of the 2020 postcards was based on the “Open Up” theme of the event. Each artist would have visited a different part of the Netherlands and connect with locals by participating in a Dutch activity, tradition or hobby.
Opening and interval acts
The second semifinal would have opened with a performance by breakdancer Redo. The final would have been opened with a flag parade, introducing all twenty-six finalists, accompanied by music produced by 15-year-old DJ Pieter Gabriel. A symphony orchestra of sixty-five young musicians from across the Netherlands, specifically formed for this occasion, was scheduled to perform in the final, together with DJ Afrojack and singer Glennis Grace, the latter who represented the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005. This interval act would have also featured forty dancers and a twenty-five-piece gospel choir.
Furthermore, the final was scheduled to include performances from eight former Eurovision winners: Gigliola Cinquetti would have performed “Non ho l’età”, Lenny Kuhr would have performed “De troubadour”, Getty Kaspers (of Teach-In) would have performed “Ding-a-dong”, Sandra Kim would have performed “J’aime la vie”, Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan would have performed “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”, Alexander Rybak would have performed “Fairytale”, and Duncan Laurence would have performed “Arcade” once again.
The EBU announced on 13 November 2019 that forty-one countries would participate in the contest, with Bulgaria and Ukraine returning after their absence from the 2019 contest, with Hungary and Montenegro withdrawing mostly due to financial reasons.
Sanja Vučić previously represented Serbia in the 2016 contest with the song “Goodbye (Shelter)”; she would have returned as a member of the girl band Hurricane. Ksenija Knežević, another member of Hurricane, previously appeared as a backing vocalist for her father Knez, who represented Montenegro in the 2015 contest.Natalia Gordienko previously represented Moldova alongside Arsenium in the 2006 contest with the song “Loca”.Senhit previously represented San Marino in the 2011 contest with the song “Stand By”.Vincent Bueno provided backing vocals for Nathan Trent for Austria in 2017.Vasil provided backing vocals for Tamara Todevska for North Macedonia in 2019.Stefania represented the Netherlands in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2016 as part of the group Kisses.Destiny Chukunyere won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015 and provided backing vocals for Michela Pace for Malta in 2019.The Mamas members Loulou Lamotte, Ashley Haynes and Dinah Yonas Manna were backing singers for John Lundvik in 2019.
The first semifinal was set to take place on 12 May 2020 at 21:00 (CEST). Seventeen countries would have participated in the first semi-final. These countries, plus Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, would have voted in this semi-final.
|Australia||Montaigne||“Don’t Break Me”||English|
|Belarus||VAL||“Da vidna” (Да вiдна)||Belarusian|
|Ireland||Lesley Roy||“Story of My Life”||English|
|Lithuania||The Roop||“On Fire”||English|
|Russia||Little Big||“Uno”||English, Spanish|
|Croatia||Damir Kedžo||“Divlji vjetre”||Croatian|
|Israel||Eden Alene||“Feker libi” (ፍቅር ልቤ)||English, Amharic, Hebrew, Arabic|
|Malta||Destiny||“All of My Love”||English|
The second semifinal was set to take place on 14 May 2020 at 21:00 (CEST). Eighteen countries would have participated in the second semi-final. These countries, plus France, Spain and the United Kingdom, would have voted in this semifinal.
|Czech Republic||Benny Cristo||“Kemama”||English|
|Estonia||Uku Suviste||“What Love Is”||English|
|Iceland||Daði og Gagnamagnið||“Think About Things”||English|
|Serbia||Hurricane||“Hasta la vista”||Serbian[b]|
|Albania||Arilena Ara||“Fall from the Sky”||English|
|Armenia||Athena Manoukian||“Chains on You”||English|
|Bulgaria||Victoria||“Tears Getting Sober”||English|
|Denmark||Ben & Tan||“Yes”||English|
|Georgia||Tornike Kipiani||“Take Me as I Am”||English[c]|
|Latvia||Samanta Tīna||“Still Breathing”||English|
|Portugal||Elisa||“Medo de sentir”||Portuguese|
The final was set to take place on 16 May 2020 at 21:00 (CEST). Twenty-six countries were scheduled to participate in the final, composed of the host country, the Big Five, and the ten best-ranked entries of each of the two semifinals. All 41 countries participating in the contest would have voted in the final.
|France||Tom Leeb||“Mon alliée (The Best in Me)”||French, English|
|Germany||Ben Dolic||“Violent Thing”||English|
|United Kingdom||James Newman||“My Last Breath”||English|
Eligibility for potential participation in the Eurovision Song Contest requires a national broadcaster with active EBU membership that will be able to broadcast the contest via the Eurovision network. The EBU will issue an invitation of participation in the contest to all active members. In contrast to previous years, associate member Australia does not need an invitation for the 2020 contest, as it was granted permission to participate until 2023.
Active EBU members
- Andorra – In March 2019, Andorran broadcaster Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra (RTVA) stated that they would be open to co-operating with Catalan broadcaster Televisió de Catalunya (TVC) to participate in future contests. The two broadcasters had previously co-operated when Andorra debuted in 2004. In May 2019, RTVA confirmed that they would not participate in the 2020 contest. In November 2019, the ruling party of Andorra (Democrats for Andorra) stated that RTVA would eventually return to the contest, with a cost assessment being a prerequisite. Andorra last participated in 2009, after which the broadcaster has not participated due to financial issues.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – In December 2018, Lejla Babović, an executive with Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT), stated that returning to the contest was BHRT’s primary goal, but also that their financial situation made it difficult to return to the contest in 2020. In July 2019, BHRT confirmed that they could not return due to sanctions imposed by the EBU as a result of the broadcaster’s outstanding debt with the organisation. Bosnia and Herzegovina last took part in 2016.
- Hungary – In October 2019, Hungarian broadcaster MTVA stated, that A Dal, which had been used as the national selection process since 2012, would not be used to select Hungary’s entry to the 2020 contest, and instead of focusing on Eurovision, the creators of A Dal wanted to focus more on supporting the Hungarian pop scene. Hungary’s absence was confirmed with the release of the full list of participants by the EBU. The non-participation came during a rise of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment among the leadership of Hungary and MTVA; while no official reason for the non-participation was given by the broadcaster, an inside source speaking with the website Index.hu stated that the contest was considered “too gay” for MTVA to participate. This was later denied by MTVA.
- Luxembourg – Because Luxembourg had not participated in the competition since 1993, there were increasing calls on them to return to the contest by 2019. In May 2019, Anne-Marie David, who won the 1973 contest for Luxembourg, called on the nation to return, while a petition from fans demanding a Luxembourgish return to the contest was sent to the Luxembourgish broadcaster RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg (RTL) and the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg. In previous years, RTL had stated they would not return to the contest due to financial concerns and the belief that smaller nations could not succeed in modern Eurovision events. In June 2019, the Chamber of Deputies opened a petition of its own, which accepted signatures through 1 August 2019. In July 2019, the broadcaster stated that they would not participate in the 2020 contest because the contest would be a financial strain on the broadcaster and because they focused on news content instead of music and entertainment.
- Monaco – Monégasque broadcaster TMC confirmed in August 2019 that it would not take part in the 2020 contest. Monaco last participated in 2006.
- Montenegro – Montenegrin broadcaster RTCG confirmed its preliminary participation in September 2019. However, the broadcaster informed website ESCToday in November that its participation in the 2020 contest would not be possible. RTCG’s director general, Božidar Šundić, challenged this statement, stating that a decision on the participation had yet to be made by RTCG’s council. Montenegro did not appear on the final list of participants, and RTCG later stated that they had decided not to participate due to “modest results” and financial issues. The money that would have otherwise been used for the contest participation fee was instead allocated to purchasing new cars to be used by RTCG staff. Montenegro’s non-participation was confirmed with the release of the full list of participants by the EBU.
- Slovakia – In June 2019, Slovak broadcaster Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) announced that it would not participate in the 2020 contest due to a lack of interest from the Slovak public. Slovakia last took part in 2012.
- Turkey – In September 2019, the EBU stated that Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) had not signed up to compete in the 2020 contest. Turkey last took part in 2012.
Associate EBU members
- Kazakhstan – In November 2018, Jon Ola Sand, the executive supervisor of the contest, stated that Kazakhstan’s participation in the contest needed to be discussed by the contest’s reference group. Kazakhstan, through its EBU associate member Khabar Agency, had previously been invited to participate in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest by that contest’s reference group, though that would not affect their participation in the main contest. The EBU stated in September 2019 that they had no intention to invite Kazakhstan to the 2020 contest.
- Kosovo – In June 2018, Mentor Shala, the then-general director of Kosovan broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK), stated that the broadcaster was still pushing for full EBU membership and that it hoped to debut at the 2020 contest. In June 2019, at the EBU’s 82nd General Assembly, members of the EBU voted against the abolishing of an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) membership as a requirement to join the EBU, thus RTK cannot join the EBU in time for the 2020 contest.
- Liechtenstein – In August 2019, Liechtensteiner broadcaster 1 FL TV announced that they had ruled out debuting in the 2020 contest. The broadcaster had attempted to become an EBU member in the past but halted its plans when its director, Peter Kölbel, unexpectedly died. It would also need the backing of the Liechtenstein government to be able to carry the cost of becoming an EBU member and paying the participation fee for the contest.
Impacts of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic and cancellation
In 2020, the pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China and its spread to other countries around the world raised concerns and the potential impact over staging the Eurovision Song Contest. On 6 March NPO, the Dutch broadcaster, stated “Eurovision organisers would follow the advice of health authorities in deciding what form the event, due to be held on 12-16 May, would take.” In March, authorities in Denmark urged the cancellation of events with more than 1,000 spectators to limit the spread of the virus. This resulted in the Danish national final being held with no live audience. Representatives from Sweden, Finland, Israel, Switzerland, Italy and Greece pulled out of the Heads of Delegation meeting on 9 March. Jon Ola Sand attended the meeting remotely after a travel restriction was placed on EBU staff until 13 March after an employee contracted the virus.Eden Alene, the Israeli representative, revealed that she would not travel to the Netherlands to film her postcard as a precaution to COVID-19. The broadcaster noted they would try to find another way to film her postcard. The Lithuanian representatives The Roop also cancelled both the travel plans to film their postcard and their participation in pre-contest parties in London and Amsterdam. The Bulgarian representative Victoria also cancelled her participation in pre-contest parties in London and Amsterdam.
On 13 March Eurovision-Spain, organisers of the pre-party planned for 10-11 April in Madrid, announced that it would be postponed due to threats of the virus until further notice. On the same day, the organisers of Israel Calling, a pre-party planned in Tel Aviv, announced that it would be cancelled. On 16 March, the organisers of Eurovision in Concert, a pre-party planned in Amsterdam, announced that it would be cancelled. On the same day, the organisers of the pre-party London Eurovision Party announced that it would be postponed due to threats of the virus until further notice.
It was ultimately decided that the contest itself would be cancelled as a result of the pandemic, which was announced on 18 March 2020. The reference group for the contest explored the option of letting the acts selected for the 2020 contest instead take part in the following year. It decided on 20 March 2020 that, in accordance with the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, the 2020 songs would not be eligible to compete in the 2021 contest and would instead be honoured in a non-competitive manner.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2020 would have been a co-production between three related Dutch television organisations—AVROTROS, Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS), and Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO)—of which each assumed a different role. Sietse Bakker and Inge van de Weerd would have served as executive producers, while Emilie Sickinghe and Jessica Stam would have served as deputy executive producers. In August 2019, Marnix Kaart and Marc Pos were announced as the directors of the three live shows, as well as Gerben Bakker as head of show.Cornald Maas would have been creative advisor.Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the contest, would keep his role as he had done since 2011, though he planned to step down following the 2020 contest.
Broadcasters and commentators
Before the contest’s cancellation, countries had started confirming their broadcasting plans and who would provide commentary either on-location or remotely at the broadcaster. The role of the commentators was to add insight to the participating entries and the provision of voting information.
|Australia||All shows||SBS||Not announced|||
|Austria||All shows||ORF1||Not announced|||
|Belarus||All shows||Belarus 1 and Belarus 24||Evgeny Perlin|||
|Finland||Final||Yle TV1||Not announced|||
|France||Final||France 2||Not announced|||
|Germany||Both semifinals||One||Peter Urban and Michael Schulte|||
|Final||One, Das Erste, and Deutsche Welle|
|Greece||All shows||ERT||Maria Kozakou and Giorgos Kapoutzidis|||
|Israel||All shows||Kan 11||Geula Even-Sa’ar and Asaf Liberman|||
|Italy||Both semifinals||Rai 4||Not announced|||
|Final||Rai 1||Not announced|
|Rai Radio 2||Not announced|
|Norway||All shows||NRK1||Not announced|||
|Romania||All shows||TVR1, TVR 1 HD and TVRi||Not announced|||
|Switzerland||All shows||SRF info||German: Sven Epiney|||
|2nd semi-final||SRF zwei|
|United Kingdom||Both semifinals||BBC Four||Scott Mills and Rylan Clark-Neal|||
|Final||BBC One||Graham Norton|
|BBC Radio 2||Ken Bruce|
|Canada||Not announced||Omni Television||Not announced|||
|United States||All shows||Netflix||Not announced||[d]|
Eurovision Song Contest: Rotterdam 2020 is set to be the official compilation album for the contest, containing all 41 competing songs. It is scheduled to be released by Universal Music Group physically and digitally on 17 April 2020.
- Eurovision Young Musicians 2020
- ABU Song Contest 2020
- Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020
- List of events affected by the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic
- Official website
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