Throwback to Rotterdam – Eurovision 2020

Throught the history of the contest the EBU as well as the broadcasters had to deal with many ongoing worldwide crisises which threatened the contest’s production. Yet sometimes even the strongest of them all fail. The Eurovision of 2020 is the only contest to date to be cancelled due to a worldwide crisis.

Following the victory of Duncan Laurence in Tel Aviv, The Netherlands had the hosting mission passed to its hands. In order to produce the contest, three Dutch broadcasters were involved: AVROTOS, NOS and NPO. The preparations began as early as the 19th of May, the day following the victory in Tel Aviv.

Five cities placed their bids to host the contest. Although being a fans favourite to host the contest, Dutch capital Amsterdam withdrew in early stages. The cities placing the bids were: Arnhem, Maastricht, Rotterdam, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht. Rotterdam ended up being chosen as the official host city with the Rotterdam Ahoy serving as the venue. The venue hosted the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2007. The Euroclub was set to be in Maassilo and the golden carpet was set to take place in Rotterdam’s cruise terminal on the 10th of May. The Semi-Finals were set for the 12th and 14th of May and the Grand Final was set for the 16th.

The contest’s slogan was “Open Up”. The logo was described as “an abstract representation of the flag colours of the 41 countries participating in 2020 by first appearance to the contest”.
The postcards were inspired by the slogan and would have included every artist participating in a local activity in a different part of The Netherlands.

Three Dutch personalities were chosen to host the contest: 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. De Jager was also given the mission of reporting from the red carpet during the opening ceremony as well as making an appearance in all three live shows on 12, 14 and 16 May 2020.

Forty-one countries expressed their interest in participating in the 2021’s edition of the contest with Montenegro and Hungary withdrawing and Bulgaria and Ukraine coming back after a one-year absence.
The Semifinals had seventeen countries in the first and eighteen countries in the second. All former Yugoslav countries competing were placed in the first Semi-Final except for Serbia which was placed in the second one. The Scandinavian countries were divided with Sweden and Norway in the first Semi-Final and Finland, Iceland and Denmark placed in the second one. Cyprus and Greece were each placed in a different Semi-Final and the former USSR countries were divided as well with Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Ukraine in the first Semi-Final and Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Poland placed in the Second one.

Rotterdam saw the return of multiple artists: Maltese singer Destiny Chukunyere came back to the contest after being Michela’s backing vocalist in Tel Aviv and after winning the Junior edition of the contest in 2015 for Malta. Serbian trio “Hurricane” brought back Sanja Vucic who previously represented the country in 2016 and Ksenja Knezevic who was a backing vocalist for her father Knez when the latter represented Montenegro in 2015.Greece’s Stefania previously participated in the Junior edition of the contest in 2016 as a part of the band “Kisses”. Macedonian singer Vasil came back for the second year in a row after being a backing vocalist for Tamara Todevska the previous year in Tel Aviv. The mamas who were chosen to represent Sweden came back for the second year as well after being the backing vocalists of John Lundvik in 2019. Austria’s Vincent Bueno was Nathan Trent’s backing vocalist in 2017. Moldova’s Natalia Gordienko represented her country in 2006 and San Marino’s Senhit represented the micro-state in 2011.

Although the EBU has shown its ability to find solutions to many issues which could affect the contest throughout the years, the crisis of Covid-19 brought the EBU to a point where it had no more solutions and the contest had to face the destiny of being cancelled for that year. From the gulf war which caused the contest of 1991 to be passed from Sanremo to Rome to tensions between Israel and the Hamas which put the contest under heavy security, the broadcasters managed to keep the contest going. Yet, as the Covid-19 crisis was hitting the European continent putting country after country in lockdown and the Rotterdam Ahoy being filled with hospital beds all plans were delayed to 2021. Yet, the EBU didn’t let the Eurovision spirit fade away for 2020. For weeks before the scheduled Eurovision week, the EBU aired on the official Eurovision Youtube channel a weekly show with Eurovision artists from 2020 and years before performing their entries as well as former entries. On the dates of the Semi-Finals, the EBU broadcasted a show with all the entries competing in the same Semi-Final and on the evening of the Grand Final a show called “Europe Shine A Light” was introduced. The show included all 41 countries’ representatives talking about their experience and life during the ongoing lockdown as well as a short part of each entry played before and during the artists’ speech. The show also featured the 2007’s winner Marija Serifovic performing her winning entry “Molitva” as well as the 2020’s artists singing the winning entry of 1997 “Love Shine A Light”.

Watch Marija’s performance here:

Watch the artists performing “Love Shine A Light” here:

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