Media Centre

Rotterdam 2021 FAQs

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about the Eurovision Song Contest 2021.

Statement on Belarus - 11 March 2021

As part of the regular procedure for all songs submitted to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), the EBU has carefully scrutinized the Belarusian song, “Ya Nauchu Tebya” (I’ll Teach You) by Galasy ZMesta to ensure it complies with the rules of the competition.

It was concluded that the song puts the non-political nature of the Contest in question.

In addition, recent reactions to the proposed entry risk bringing the reputation of the ESC into disrepute.

We’ve written to the broadcaster BTRC, which is responsible for Belarus’ entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, to inform them that the song, in its present form, is currently not eligible to compete.

Furthermore we’ve requested that they take all necessary steps to submit a modified version, or a new song, that is compliant with the ESC rules.

Failure to do so could result in disqualification from this year’s Contest.

Where will the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 be held?

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and its Dutch Members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS together with the City of Rotterdam will stage the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam at the Ahoy Arena.

When will it take place?

The event is scheduled to take place on 18, 20 and 22 May 2021.

How many countries will take part in the Contest?

41 countries will take part in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest.

How are you ensuring the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in 2021?

The EBU and Dutch Host Broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS are working on 3 scenarios for hosting the competition.

Read more about the 3 scenarios in this press release.

Which scenario do you prefer?

Of course, we prefer to organize the largest and most spectacular Eurovision Song Contest 2021 possible.

The fact remains that we are dealing with a pandemic that requires certain choices to be made. The safety of our artists, employees and performers is paramount at all times.

We will, however, do everything in our power to organize an unforgettable Eurovision Song Contest within the possibilities that suit each of the 3 scenarios, physical or virtual.

Who decides which scenario is chosen?

The EBU will decide in consultation with the Contest organizers NPO, NOS and AVROTROS and the municipality of Rotterdam.

When will you choose a scenario?

Ongoing developments with the coronavirus pandemic will play a major part in influencing when a choice is made. We will remain agile, always keeping in mind that there will be opportunities later to downscale should it be necessary.

Can you imagine a situation in which the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will not take place?

No. There will definitely be a Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and three shows on May 18, 20 and 22, 2021, from which a winner will be chosen. What these shows will look like will be determined in the coming months.

What will happen to all the events in Rotterdam around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest?

Based on the different scenarios, Rotterdam will consider what kind of extra activities are appropriate in each circumstance. Events at an appropriate distance or partly online are possible.

Would you host the Contest without an audience?

The current situation across Europe is likely to remain uncertain for the coming months and at this stage, we cannot comment on whether an audience will be present for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Should an audience be permitted, the number of tickets available for each show in May will be dependent on government guidelines regarding social distancing.

Will I be able to buy tickets for this year’s shows?

Because of reduced capacity in all Scenarios, only those who purchased tickets for the 2020 Contest will now be offered the chance to buy tickets for the 2021 event. If you are already a ticketholder please see our FAQs here.

Will journalists be able to attend the event?

We hope to welcome journalists to Rotterdam. The number that can attend will depend on which Scenario we are eventually working in. We will however have an Online Press Centre for the first time meaning that those who cannot travel to Rotterdam can cover the Eurovision Song Contest remotely. The Online Press Centre will provide accredited journalists access to press conferences, meet and greets and rehearsals.

How are you guaranteeing all countries can participate in 2021?

In the event that several or all countries cannot perform in Rotterdam next year because of, for instance, travel restrictions related to the COVID 19 pandemic each delegation is being asked to submit a live-on-tape back-up recording of their song.

What does live-on-tape mean?

Live-on-tape means recording a song performed live on stage 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.

Do all the live-on-tape back-ups have to look the same in each country?

Rather than trying to impose a strict format for the live-on-tape back-ups, the EBU and Host broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS decided to fully embrace each country's diversity in creativity, ambition, and style.

Beyond a set of basic guidelines and minimal limitations, each participating broadcaster will have maximum freedom to create a performance they are proud of and they feel will best represent their country.

How will you ensure fairness when it comes to the live-on-tape recordings?

Before the recording each participating broadcaster will meet with a co-ordinator from the Host Broadcasters and submit a recording session schedule, studio set up, camera plan and signed Declaration of Compliance with the Production Guidelines.

The Head of Delegation must be onsite during the 60-minute recording session of the permitted three takes and, either alone or together with someone who has the appropriate mandate, make the final decision on which take is selected.

A live connection will be set up during the recording to allow the ESC Executive Supervisor and a representative from the Independent Voting Observer (E&Y) and the Host Broadcaster to observe the recording session, to provide assistance and support, but also to ensure the integrity of the Contest.

Who has the final sign off on the live-on-tape recording?

All materials will be checked for approval by the Host Broadcasters and the EBU. The Host broadcasters will perform on a final sound mix and any image enhancements to ensure uniform levels and quality. A copy of that final mix will be sent to the respective Head of Delegation for approval (not to be unreasonably withheld)

Is there a limit on how many rehearsals can take place before the live-on-tape recording?

No, the number of rehearsals prior to the recording session is up to the participating broadcaster.

What are the basic guidelines for producing the live-on-tape recording?

The live-on-tape recording should be produced in line with the Eurovision Song Contest Rules and essentially be a recording of a single 3-minute live stage performance. It should not be a music video.

What can’t broadcasters use in their performance?

The live-on-tape recordings should not contain any augmented or virtual reality, overlays, confetti, drone shots, water, use of chromakey or green screen.

They should be recorded in a studio or studio-like environment without an audience present or audience sounds.

Can autotune be used on the live-on-tape recordings?

No, autotune or any other alteration of live vocals, is not permitted on the recording.

Should the live-on-tape performance be similar to the planned stage performance?

Each broadcaster is free to either produce a recording of their planned stage performance or an alternative performance. However, the audio track should be similar.

Can a country submit their national selection performance where appropriate?

No, the live-on-tape backup should be unique recording and not be publicly available before the event in May. A national selection set can be used, however, and similarities are fine.

Will broadcasters be given assistance by the Host Broadcaster in making their Live on Tape recording?

Yes. It is up to each Participating Broadcaster to develop a creative concept for their live-on-tape recording. as they would for their on-stage performance for Rotterdam. The ESC 2021 Contest team will be available to advise, guide and support.

The Contest team will oversee all the creative concepts, lighting, and LED content, to ensure diversity across the 41 acts and to avoid significant similarities.

When do all the live-on-tape recordings have to be delivered by?

Each participating broadcaster must submit their live-on-tape recording by 26 March 2021.

With the same countries taking part as 2020, will there be a new allocation draw for the Semi-Finals in 2021?

No, the ESC Reference Group, the Contest’s governing board, decided that a new draw will not take place and all countries will perform in the respective Semi Final they were allocated in January 2020.

Why will the songs of 2020 not be eligible to compete in 2021?

The Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, which represents all participating broadcasters, agreed that the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest should be upheld for the 2021 competition. This means that the songs that compete in 2021 cannot be commercially available before 1 September 2020, which excludes the current selection of songs chosen for this year’s cancelled event.

Are you executing the same shows you planned in 2020, with the same interval acts, presenters etc.?

The Dutch Host Broadcasters of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest will review the plans already made for the shows in the coming months.

The theme Open Up and the stage will remain the same. The 4 presenters Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager will also be present again next year.

Further details regarding the content of the shows will be announced at a later stage.

Is it a fair Contest if some of the delegations record a video and some have to perform live? How can you ensure the rules are adhered to if all participants perform remotely?

We are committed to creating the fairest possible Song Contest and all participating broadcasters will be consulted and kept fully informed about the various scenarios being planned.

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