The Eurovision Film Festival, the oldest and longest-running television programme in history, announced on Wednesday 18 March that it will be cancelled this year in Rotterdam, for the time being, indefinitely.
Through the official twitter account of the song festival, a statement has been issued explaining the reasons for the cancellation. For weeks, the European Broadcasting Union has been assessing the international situation of COVID-19, trying to find an alternative for its celebration. "Due to the uncertain situation of the pandemic and the measures imposed by the governments of the participating countries, we have made the difficult decision that it is impossible to continue as planned," they announce.
This is the first time that the Eurovision festival has been cancelled, after 64 years of relentless broadcasting. "We are very proud to have unified the European audience uninterruptedly throughout these years," they said. "We, as millions of fans, are extremely sad that we cannot celebrate this coming May". The organisers of the festival have asked for patience “until the consequences of this unprecedented decision are solved”, and urges to wait for "more details in the coming days or weeks".
In addition, the organization has committed to repay the relevant expenses to both the hosts, -the Netherlands, which won last year with the song Arcade, played by Duncan Laurence - as well as the 41 members who have worked hard to organize the preparations for this year’s festival.
The press release ends with some emotional words from the organizers: "We are heartbroken, and we are confident that the Eurovision family will continue to send love and support around the world in these difficult times".
Will it be postponed?
As can be seen from its website, given that the current situation throughout Europe is likely to remain uncertain for the coming months, "the EBU cannot guarantee that an event of this size, with such a number of stakeholders, can be organised by the end of this year".
A historic decision
It is the first time in history that the Eurovision festival has been cancelled, an initiative that was born as an idea of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and whose initial objective was to test the limits of live transmission technology in 1956. This was the moment when Europeans began to have televisions in their homes. The first edition had only seven participants. Over the years, the festival became more sophisticated and opened to more and more countries, not only Europeans, but also friends. More than 40 are participating in the festival today.
The global health crisis of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus has toppled the longest-running TV show, achieving what no other event in 64 years of history has ever achieved.
Other events have altered the Eurovision festival, but never resulted in it being cancelled: not in 1974, when French President Georges Pompidou died during the Eurovision week; nor was it stopped in 1980 Israel decided not to participate, even though it was the host, it was not interrupted when in 1969 Austria decided to boycott Spain, the host of that year, because it was ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco.