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Eurovision performers to pre-record performances as insurance against COVID restrictions

By | Published on Thursday 19 November 2020

Eurovision Song Contest

Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have announced plans to ensure that the 2021 edition of the show will go ahead “no matter what”. The key to this will be pre-recorded performances that will be aired in the event that any contestant is unable to travel to Rotterdam for the contest itself.

The 2020 edition of Eurovision was cancelled, of course, due to social distancing and travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later announced that more flexibility would be introduced into the event’s rules, to cope with the possibility that the pandemic would still be an issue in May next year, and any other future global crisis.

One early suggestion of a rule change was to drop the requirement for backing vocals to be performed live, allowing contestants to travel with smaller delegations. Now plans have been put in place to allow contestants to remain in the contest even if they are unable to travel at all.

Every contestant will pre-record a performance of their song in their home country, which will be aired in place of a live performance at the contest should they be unable to attend on the night. To ensure fairness, these pre-taped performances will be subject to strict rules.

“All the participating broadcasters have been asked to record a live performance of their act in their own country”, say organisers. “This recording will be delivered prior to the event and will take place in a studio setting. The recording will take place in real-time (as it would be at the contest) without making any edits to the vocals or any part of the performance itself after the recording”.

Performances can use “similar technical possibilities and dimensions” as would be available in Rotterdam, but must not contain any “augmented or virtual reality, overlays, confetti, drone shots, water, use of chromakey or green screen”.

Technical plans for the recording must be submitted prior to it taking place, and each will be observed remotely by Eurovision’s Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl and a representative from independent voting observer E&Y. The recording will have a 60 minute window in which to be completed, and performers will be allowed a maximum of three takes. It will also not be permitted for the performance to be aired anywhere prior to the show.

The decision to allow pre-recorded performances follows the announcement in September of four possible scenarios for the 2021 event: a normal Eurovision Song Contest; a socially distanced contest; a contest with travel restrictions; and a contest in full lockdown.

Pre-recording performances will allow the show to continue even in the latter two possible situations, which could include no performers being able to attend the live show in Rotterdam. Although organisers say that it is currently most likely that the show will go ahead with social distancing in place.

And whatever happens, organisers insist that there is no possibility that the show will be cancelled again, saying: “There will definitely be a Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and three shows on 18, 20 and 22 May 2021, from which a winner will be chosen. What these shows will look like will be determined in the coming months”.