Northern Ireland news

Eurovision 2020 cancelled over coronavirus

This year's Eurovision Song Contest was to be held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands
Brendan Hughes

THE Eurovision Song Contest 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event was due to take place in May at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

It will be the first year the contest has not been held since it began in 1956.

There had been questions over its future after the Dutch government banned large public gatherings in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"We, like the millions of you around the world, are extremely saddened that it cannot take place in May," Eurovision's organisers said in a statement.

"The health of artists, staff, fans and visitors, as well as the situation in the Netherlands, Europe and the world, is at the heart of this decision."

Organisers said they "explored many alternative options" but decided postponing or scaling back the contest was not feasible.

"Dutch restrictions on gatherings of large numbers of people and international travel restrictions mean that holding the event, even without an audience, is impossible," they said.

Organisers also rejected the idea of hosting the show remotely with contestants performing via satellite link.

"It's in the DNA of the Eurovision Song Contest.. to compete together on the same stage," they said, adding that organising the contest "in another way would not be in-keeping with our values and the tradition of the event".

It is not yet known whether this year's contestants will return in 2021 or whether they will have to select new songs.

Eurovision 2020 was due to have 41 participating countries.

Lesley Roy was to represent Ireland with her song Story of My Life, while James Newman was to perform My Last Breath for the UK.

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