Dutch to let fans attend Eurovision in Covid trial

The Hague (AFP) –


The Dutch government gave permission Thursday for thousands of fans to attend the Eurovision Song Contest as part of a trial to see how to reopen venues in the coronavirus pandemic.

Up to 3,500 spectators will be allowed into the Rotterdam Ahoy stadium for the concerts from May 18 to 22 provided they follow conditions including presenting a negative coronavirus test, the government said.

Last year's edition of the glitzy annual extravaganza was cancelled because of Covid-19.

"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," Martin Oesterdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said in a statement to AFP.

"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 European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, said all national delegations taking part in the contest would be kept strictly separate from the audience.

The Netherlands has held a series of events under its "FieldLab" project including a concert in Amsterdam involving 1,300 people and an international football match that 5,000 people were allowed to attend.

Dutch media minister Arie Slob welcomed the chance to hold Eurovision "in a completely safe and responsible way".

"With the lessons we can learn from FieldLab, we hope we can take new steps towards a society in which more can be done," Slob said in a statement.

The Dutch government reserved the right to change the plan in case infections rise significantly before May, including holding the event without a live audience.

Around 65,000 fans were due to attend Eurovision in the Netherlands before it was cancelled because of coronavirus.

The Netherlands won the right to host Eurovision after Dutch singer Duncan Laurence stormed to victory in the 2019 contest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.