April 23, 2020 / 3:59 PM / a month ago

Rotterdam to host Eurovision in 2021 after COVID-19 forced cancellation

FILE PHOTO: General view of the concert hall Ahoy, that should have hosted the Eurovision song contest in May, and now is used as an emergency hospital, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Rotterdam, Netherlands March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch port city of Rotterdam agreed on Thursday to host the 2021 Eurovision song contest, one of the world’s largest televised events, after this year’s edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rotterdam’s city council voted in favour of covering 6.7 million euros in costs resulting from the cancellation of the 2020 event, news agency ANP reported.

Organisers had announced in March that this year’s competition could not proceed in Rotterdam in May due to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

The Ahoy events venue, where the contest had been due to be held, has since been temporarily outfitted to house coronavirus patients..

Broadcasters and the Ahoy “can count on Rotterdam as host city”, ANP quoted city council member for culture, Said Kasmi, as saying on Thursday after the vote.

New dates have not yet been set for the 2021 edition.

Eurovision features live musical numbers from each participating country - more than 50 countries in recent editions, reaching beyond European borders to Israel and Australia. Countries vote for each others’ entries in a complex system beloved by fans.

The Netherlands was to host the 2020 event after Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 event with a song called “Arcade”.

The 65th edition of the event was expected to draw a television audience of up to 200 million.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Alex Richardson

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