There will be an audience at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. The organisers of the event have confirmed the news to broadcaster NOS. In cooperation with the government, the organisers will host the event as a so-called fieldlab event.
Update 01.04.2021 21:00 CET – EBU Statement:
“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,” says 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 EBU added, “as previously announced, 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.”
Audience at Eurovision 2021
The audience that will attend the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam will, sadly for international fans, only consist of Dutch people. Currently, the Dutch government have limited travelling in and out of the country for leisure purposes. Per show, about half the capacity of the arena will be filled with people. That means that a total of 3,500 audience members can attend the show. This guideline will go for each of the shows: the jury shows, the family shows and the live shows on all three nights.
When the audience has entered the arena, there is no longer a need for social distancing. Everyone entering must however have a negative result of a Covid-19 test, either a PcR test or a rapid test. Earlier this month, the fieldlab researchers announced that new test locations would open soon, to provide the test capacity to host larger events.
What are fieldlab events?
The Dutch government has been trying to organise more and more events. They do so to see if they can be done safely during the pandemic. Previously, theater shows, a congress and even a football match between the Netherlands and Latvia had a live audience. This new event policy should provide the entertainment sector with more hope for the future.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs is the thriving force behind the fieldlab events. They have explained their ideas. At these events, they test people for Covid-19 before and after the event. That way, they look at the risk of spreading the virus. They also look at the interactions between people: How long are they close together? How do people react to the guidelines in place at the event? First results are promising. The Ministry think visiting an event where every visitor had a negative PCR-test carries the same risk as visiting untested family.
Dreaming of an audience
Sietse Bakker, Executive Producer for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, has commented to broadcaster NOS. In his statement, he says:
The fact that we have been given the opportunity to look at a scenario of a Eurovision Song Contest wíth an audience is something we could only have dreamt of. We are grateful to the government and Fieldlab Events for the perspective and trust they have given us in this.Sietse Bakker, Executive Producer of Eurovision 2021
In the upcoming weeks, Ahoy Rotterdam, the Dutch organisers and the EBU will discuss how to shape the live event. They will look at how to safely allow a live audience to attend all nine shows. Bakker and his team added that the health and safety of everyone attending Eurovision 2021 has the highest priority. This also means that tickets will once again be sold. In the next couple of weeks, the organisers will come up with a plan for ticket sales.
Minister for Media, Arie Slob, has said to newspaper De Telegraaf that the final decision about an audience at Eurovision will follow at the end of April. The lights are all green right now, but if Covid-19 cases start rising again, there may be a chance that even the fieldlab events will not have a live audience – including Eurovision.