The Eurovision Song Contest in the Dutch city of Rotterdam cannot go ahead as normal this year because of coronavirus and will likely have no live audience, organisers said Wednesday.
Efforts are being made to make sure as many artists as possible can perform live for the event, which is due to have its grand final at the Rotterdam Ahoy venue on May 22.
The glitzy annual musical pageant, which has millions of viewers in Europe and as far afield as Australia, has already been postponed from 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organisers are taking a "determined yet realistic approach" due to Covid-19 and have "ruled out that the 65th Contest can take place 'as normal' in 2021", they said in a statement.
"The Eurovision Song Contest will definitely make its welcome return this May despite the pandemic but... it is regrettably impossible to hold the event in the way we are used to,” added Martin Oesterdahl, the contest's executive supervisor.
Organisers are now focussed on a "socially distanced event" with as many artists as possible performing live but either no audience or a limited one.
It will also feature strict safety measures including frequent Covid testing, they said.
The Dutch government has "given assurances" that all artists and delegations will be able to enter the Netherlands, the organisers added.
A second option is for the hosts and interval acts to go live from Rotterdam but with recorded performances from all competitors, and again with no audience or a small one.
A third option is for a "lockdown Eurovision Song Contest" with recorded performances by both hosts and artists, and no audience.
A final decision will be taken in coming weeks, they said.
The Netherlands won the right to host Eurovision after Dutch singer Duncan Laurence stormed to victory in the 2019 contest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
A total of 65,000 fans had been expected to attend nine different shows including the final at Rotterdam's Ahoy venue.