THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Organizers of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest welcomed the news Thursday that up to 3,500 fans may be allowed to attend the popular music competition when it is staged in the Netherlands next month.
The Dutch government has said it plans to make the annual contest of singers representing their countries part of a series of test events it is using to evaluate how to safely reopen large-scale public events amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The government said it wants to allow a maximum of 3,500 people to attend a total of nine shows in the city of Rotterdam — rehearsals, semifinals and the May 22 final, if the state of the pandemic allows it. The Netherlands was set to host the contest last year, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
“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,” Executive Supervisor Martin Osterdahl said in a statement on the event's website.
“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," Osterdahl said. "The health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority.”
The government's test procedures allow limited numbers of people with proof of negative COVID-19 tests to attend events and divides them into bubbles so they can be closely monitored. Previous tests have included soccer matches and music festivals.