Eurovision 2021 to allow live audience of 3,500 with Covid safety measures

The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 has been given the green light to include a live audience of 3,500 people.

The Dutch government has given the event the thumbs up, but it will have to abide by strict Covid-19 safety measures.

Eager Eurovision fans will be permitted to attend the nine event shows including the Grand Final held on May 22 at Rotterdam Ahoy.

However, with only 3,500 tickets permitted, visitors will only take up approximately 20% of the arena’s capacity.

And in a blow for some keen Eurovision fans, only those who purchased tickets to the cancelled 2020 Song Contest will be able to buy 2021 tickets.

Dutch government officials said the limited audience would be permitted "to ensure the health and safety of fans, crew, press and participants".

All audience members will have to show a valid negative coronavirus test certificate within 24 hours of the event, and take another test five days afterwards.

Executive Supervisor of the event Martin Osterdahl said: "We are happy that the Dutch authorities have enabled us to welcome audiences at the three live shows and six dress rehearsals in Rotterdam in the safest possible way given the current circumstances."

He said that organisers will be enforcing tough Covid measures to ensure the show goes ahead "carefully and responsibly" with an expected at-home audience of 180million around the world.

And crew, press and artists taking up seats at the Rotterdam Ahoy will be tested for the virus every 48 hours.

Osterdahl added: "The world will be watching when we bring back the Eurovision Song Contest next month and, as millions enjoy the competition on TV and online, we are pleased that the hard work of the artists, delegations and crew will also be shared with a live audience in the Ahoy arena."

Ticket holders from last year are expected to be contacted on May 5, before tickets are released for sale on the May 8.

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The scheme is part of a pilot Fieldlab events programme put in place by the Dutch government, which has allowed small crowds into theatres, conference centres and football matches under strict monitoring.

The Netherlands will host the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, after the crown was taken home by Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence in 2019 with his song Arcade.

The country has recorded more than 17,000 deaths and an excess of 1.49million cases since the start of the pandemic.

Belarus was banned from the contest after it repeatedly submitted 'anti-dissent' songs which criticised government protests.

The country was offered the chance to rewrite the lyrics, submit another entry or withdraw from the competition entirely – which led to them being banned for being "overly political".

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