100 days until Song Contest: ‘Everything has been tinkered lately. ‘

The Eurovision Song Contest was kicked off in Rotterdam. In exactly 100 days, the final of the international song festival will be in the event hall Ahoy. Mayor Aboutaleb, together with the four song festival presenters, revealed a large clock at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which counts down to the final day on Saturday 22 May.

The kick-off was kept secret from the public in the open air and due to the corona measures. Nevertheless, it was a special moment, says organizer Sietse Bakker. โ€œThe song festival season has now officially begun. Starting today, we are going to look forward to what is to come.โ€

โ€œ Its finally getting some color againโ€, said Jan Smit right after the countdown:

Last year, around this moment, the so-called key collection was made to the host city of the festival, in the city hall of Rotterdam. โ€œBack then we were all shoulder to shoulderโ€, says organiser Sietse Bakker. โ€œMeanwhile, that key has been in a safe for a while now. To mark the moment of the hundred days, the municipality of Rotterdam devised the countdown clock.โ€

Over the past few months, Bakker and his team were focused on adapting the plans that were already in place. โ€œWe live in a new reality, so certain plans are no longer possible. And if you have more time – as is the case now – you are going to ask questions about some of the ideas we liked at first. Almost everything has been tinkered over the past period.โ€

As an example, Bakker mentions the design of the decor: โ€œNormally, 2000 fans would be standing on the floor around the stage, waving all sorts of flags. Of course, that cannot be done in coronatijd.โ€ The organisation has therefore decided to fill the entire floor of Ahoy with the greenroom, which includes all participating artists. โ€œSo the set designer had to go back to the drawing board.โ€

The signs for a nice edition of the Song Contest are good, says Bakker. โ€œAs it looks now, all artists can come to Rotterdam. However, we are creating bubbles around the participants and we are going to test a lot.โ€ Should there be an outbreak in one of those bubbles, the participating country will participate with a pre-recorded video clip in which they sing live.

The amount of audience in Ahoy is the biggest uncertainty, says Bakker. In doing so, he hopes for easing. โ€œIn the government roadmap, you can see that for locations larger than 2000 square meters, an exception can be made in terms of the amount of public.โ€ Only the government only makes this exception at a lower level of risk. Bakker: โ€œThen the infections have to go down first.โ€ In mid-April, the organisation will take a decision on the basis of the measures in force.

Suit by Jan Smit

A song festival without an audience is also an option, although the organizer does not want to say much about it yet. โ€œWe do have ideas about that, which we are now figuring out.โ€ Bakker is afraid that the event will lose some of its charm. โ€œWe want it to feel authentic. Fortunately, if its okay, we still have the performers in the greenroom. They then have to mimic the feeling of audience a little.โ€

Bakker himself is most looking forward to the announcement of all participating songs in the coming weeks. โ€œThen all the pieces of the puzzle will fall together: the movies, the dresses of the presenters, the suit of Jan Smit, the scoreboard, and so on.โ€ Until then, he also keeps a finger on the pulse. โ€œTo ensure that we do the things we do responsibly. After all, it remains a very large productionโ€.

The fact that the Netherlands is allowed to organise the Song Contest is due to Duncan Laurences winning in 2019.