Eurovision Song Contest Canceled Because of Coronavirus

Madonna - Eurovision - H - 2019
Michael Campanella

The 65th edition of the popular pan-European singing competition was scheduled to run May 12-16 in the Netherlands.

Even Eurovision can't beat the coronavirus.

The popular pan-European singing competition has been canceled due to health concerns connected to the spread of the respiratory illness known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the annual event, said it was canceling Eurovision 2020, making it the latest media event to be dropped as the coronavirus continues to spread across Europe.

Eurovision 2020 was scheduled to take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from May 12 to 16, following the country's victory at the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the song "Arcade" performed by Duncan Laurence. It would have been the 65th Eurovision Song Contest and the fifth time that the Netherlands hosts the event, the last being in 1980.

"It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam, organizers said in a statement posted to the Eurovision twitter feed Wednesday. "Over the past few weeks we have explored many alternative options to allow the Eurovision Song Contest to go ahead. However 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 — means the European Broadcasting Union has taken the difficult decision that it is impossible to continue with the live event as planned."

This marks the first time in Eurovision history that the contest has been canceled. Launched in 1956, Eurovision is a wildly popular, if also widely mocked, event that regularly draws huge ratings across the continent. Eurovision 2019 attracted 182 million viewers across 40 markets, according to the EBU.

Concerns around COVID-19 first emerged March 4 when an EBU employee tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from northern Italy, a hotspot for the infection in Europe. Several EBU employees were placed in quarantine.

Since then, as the virus has spread across Europe, several countries, including Italy, France and Spain, have been put in lockdown and travel restrictions have been imposed across the continent.

The EBU said it was in talks with Dutch broadcasters and the city of Rotterdam over possible hosting of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.

The EBU said it was "heartbroken" over the cancellation but said the "whole Eurovision family, across the world, will continue to provide love and support for each other at this difficult time."