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Duncan Laurence will not reprise winning Eurovision performance following positive COVID test

By | Published on Friday 21 May 2021

Duncan Laurence / Eurovision

Winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, Duncan Laurence, will not be able to hit the stage for a victory lap tomorrow night, following a last minute positive COVID test. Laurence had been due to reprise his winning performance of the song ‘Arcade’ after a two year wait as part of the grand final of this year’s competition on Saturday.

In a statement, organisers said that Laurence was only displaying “mild symptoms” of the coronavirus but, due to a minimum seven day isolation requirement, he would not be able to take part in the show as planned. However, he “will still feature in the show in a different form”.

“We are of course disappointed, first of all for Duncan, who deserves a live performance on our very own Eurovision stage after his 2019 victory and the worldwide success of ‘Arcade'”, said Sietse Bakker, Executive Producer of the show. “We couldn’t be more proud of his opening act for the first semi-final. Of course we wish Duncan a speedy recovery!”

Laurence’s management added: “Duncan is very disappointed, he has been looking forward to this for two years. We are very happy that he will still be seen in the final”.

This year’s contest in Rotterdam is going ahead, of course, under strict COVID restrictions, which includes regular testing of performers. Most performers have been able to take part in the semi-finals, despite a number of positive tests in the run up to the event.

Australia’s Montaigne had to use a pre-recorded performance due to being unable to travel to the Netherlands – after failing to go through to the grand final, she said that this put her at a “severe disadvantage”. Meanwhile, after a member of Icelandic band Daði og Gagnamagnið tested positive, a performance filmed in rehearsals last week was used in place of a live set in last night’s second semi-final.

Any fears that this would put them at a disadvantage proved unfounded, as they comfortably went through to Saturday’s final. The band will also not be able to perform live there, with a pre-recorded performance being used again.

Also going through with a hefty share of the public vote last night was San Marino’s Senhit, with her song ‘Adrenalina’. Was this due to the song’s quality or because she’d managed to get Flo Rida to come over from the US to perform his guest verse?

Maybe a bit of both. Who knows? It’s definitely San Marino’s strongest chance of winning in all their attempts since first taking part in the contest in 2008. And not just because it’s one of the few time’s they’ve actually qualified for the final.

At a press conference last night, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Martin Österdahl – who is in charge of the live event for the first time this year – commented on the effort put in to making the show happen.

“We’re incredibly happy with where we are in terms of the entire project, which is arguably the most complex television production in the world, as well as the largest music event”, he said. “It’s been a long journey to get here, but when I saw the first semi-final on Tuesday evening – seeing people in the audience enjoying the show was a great, great feeling”.

“So many people have worked so hard to get us here”, he went on. “We knew that the Dutch broadcasters are excellent producers of television, but we also learned how incredibly resilient and adaptable they are. We are all super grateful to the city of Rotterdam and [broadcasters] NPO, NOS [and] AVROTROS”.

The grand final will take place tomorrow night, starting at 8pm on BBC One in the UK.