March 21, 2020 / 11:45 AM / 2 months ago

Eurovision looking at alternatives for cancelled song contest

FILE PHOTO: Fans react as they listen to the 2019 Eurovision song contest final in the fans zone by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 18, 2019 REUTERS/ Corinna Kern

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The organisers of the Eurovision song contest are looking to stage an alternative to their cancelled event sometime this year, in the form of a television show or through its online platforms.

The European Broadcasting Union, which decided on Wednesday to scrap the event due to the coronavirus crisis, said it was “exploring alternative programming, but not a competition”.

The Eurovision song contest is one of the world’s largest television events and had been scheduled to take place in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in May.

The contest has been held annually since 1956, and was expected to draw up to 200 million viewers and a live audience of tens of thousands for the final on May 16.

“The EBU is very aware of how much the Eurovision song contest will be missed this year”, the organisers said.

“It is our intention to honour the songs that have been elected for 2020”, they said. “To help unite and entertain audiences around Europe during these challenging times.”

Eurovision features live musical numbers from each participating country - more than 50 in recent editions - reaching beyond Europe to Israel and Australia.

Countries could decide to send the same artists as they would have this year when the competition returns in 2021, organisers said.

But they will have to put forward new songs, as the ones chosen for the 2020 edition will no longer be allowed to run in the competition.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Frances Kerry

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