Eurovision has announced with ‘deep regret’ that the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam will be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The organiser for Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), said that it ‘explored many alternative options’ in an attempt to allow the international singing competition to go ahead.

The EBU cited ‘the uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe – and the restrictions put in place by the governments of the participating broadcasters and the Dutch authorities’ as the reason why it had made the decision to cancel the event, saying that the ‘health of artists, staff, fans and visitors, as well as the situation in the Netherlands, Europe and the world’ was central to this decision.

The EBU stated:  “We are very proud that the Eurovision Song Contest has united audiences every year, without interruption, for the past 64 years and we, like the millions of you around the world, are extremely saddened that it cannot take place in May.”

Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor, said: “We are very proud of the Eurovision Song Contest, that for 64 years has united people all around Europe. And we are deeply disappointed about this situation. The EBU, together with the Host Broadcaster NPO, NOS, AVROTROS and the City of Rotterdam will continue to talk to see if it’s possible to stage the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in 2021. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the process of staging a great Eurovision Song Contest this year. Unfortunately, that was not possible due to factors beyond our control. We regret this situation very much, but I can promise you: the Eurovision Song Contest will come back stronger than ever.”

NPO chairwoman, Shula Rijxman, added: “This decision by the EBU was inevitable, given the circumstances currently affecting all of Europe as a result of the coronavirus and all the measures that governments must now take. This is a big disappointment for the Dutch audience, the fantastic team behind the scenes, the presenters and the artists. In recent months, a large group of people have worked hard on the Song Contest. We thank them for their great commitment and regret that the results of the efforts will not be visible in the short term. We would particularly like to mention the municipality of Rotterdam, which has proven itself as the ideal partner in this project in the past year. This edition was an excellent opportunity to understand each other differently in a period of uncertainty in Europe, but above all an opportunity to really bring Europe together. Music is universally binding and – I am sure – it will stay that way. Even after this corona crisis.”

Sietse Bakker, executive producer event, said: “For the artists from 41 participating countries, our opening and interval acts that put their hearts and souls into their performance. For the fans who have always supported us and have kept confidence until the last moment. And not least, for the fantastic team, which has worked very hard in recent months to make this 65th edition a great success. We understand and share that disappointment. Some perspective is appropriate because, at the same time, we also realize that this decision and its consequences don’t compare to the challenges faced by people affected, directly or indirectly, by the coronavirus and the difficult but necessary measures.”

The EBU asked for ‘some patience’ in the coming weeks as it works through the ramifications of the event’s cancellation, saying that further news would be released over the coming days and weeks. It also said it wanted to ‘pay tribute’ to the Host Broadcaster team in the Netherlands and its 41 public service broadcasters worked tirelessly to plan the 2020 event.

The EBU concluded: “We are all heartbroken that the Eurovision Song Contest will not be able to be staged in May but feel confident that the whole Eurovision family, across the world, will continue to provide love and support for each other at this difficult time.”

An FAQ about the cancellation was provided on the Eurovision website.