Coronavirus Casts a Shadow on 2020 Eurovision Contest

Duncan Laurence
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Duncan Laurence, representing The Netherlands, performs live Arcade after winning the Grand Final of the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 18, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Representatives from the European Broadcasting Union, Israel and Sweden will not travel for March 9 Eurovision delegates meeting.

BARCELONA — Coronavirus has begun to cast a shadow over the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to take place in Rotterdam in May.

Although there is no indication yet from organizers that the international competition could be canceled, representatives of the European Broadcasting Union, the contest’s international organizer, will not attend a meeting of Eurovision delegates from the 41 participating countries on Monday (March 9), due to a travel ban that has been put in place after a staff member was diagnosed with the virus.

Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand is among those who will be joining the meeting via video call, according to a statement from the EBU.

Delegates from Israel and Sweden will also reportedly by absent from the meet and greet, the first major communal event on the Eurovision calendar leading up to the week of May 12, when the song contest takes place, culminating in the televised final on Saturday, May 16. Last year 182 million viewers watched the contest final, which took place in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli public broadcaster KAN, organizer of the country’s Eurovision entry, canceled plans for its delegation to attend after the Israeli Health Ministry advised that residents avoid travel to international events. Swedish broadcaster SVT also decided that its delegates would attend the meeting digitally instead of traveling to Rotterdam.

The EBU noted that the City of Rotterdam officials had advised that there are no travel restrictions to or from the Netherlands that would keep the meeting from going ahead.

“The EBU continues to monitor the situation and assess the potential of the impact of coronavirus on its events," an alert on its web site reads. "Instructs members to get in touch with your EBU event coordinator in case of any changes to the event program, and/or to discuss your concerns, and if necessary, make alternative arrangements.”

As of now, the EBU has canceled the 26th Sports Assembly in Malta, which was to take place this month, and postponed the Digital Media Days 2020, which had been slated for Milan next week.