The Eurovision Song Concert has been cancelled as Europe continues to battle coronavirus, organisers have confirmed.
The singing contest, which attracts a TV audience of nearly 200 million people each year, was due to take place in Rotterdam after the Netherlands won it in 2019.
An official statement confirmed: “It is with deep regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam.
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) March 18, 2020
“Over the past few weeks, we have explored many alternative options to allow the Eurovision Song Contest to go ahead. However, the uncertainty created by the spread of Covid-19 throughout Europe – and the restrictions put in place by the governments of the participating broadcasters and the Dutch authorities – means the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has taken the difficult decision that it is impossible to continue with the live event as planned.”
It is the first time that the contest has been cancelled in its 64 year history.
The statement added: “We are very proud that the Eurovision Song Contest has united audiences every year, without interruption, for the past 64 years and we, like the millions of fans around the world, are extremely saddened that it cannot take place in May.
“The EBU, NPO, NOS, AVROTROS and the City of Rotterdam will continue a conversation regarding the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021.
“We would ask people to bear with us while we work through the ramifications of this unprecedented decision and patiently await any further news in the coming days and weeks.
“We would like to pay tribute to all the host broadcaster team in the Netherlands and our 41 members who have worked so hard on planning this year’s event.
“We are all as heartbroken as they are that the Eurovision Song Contest will not be able to be staged in May and know that the whole Eurovision family, across the world, will continue to provide love and support for each other at this difficult time.”
It comes after organisers warned on the official Twitter account that fans had a “nervous wait” to see if the contest would go ahead.
“With a constantly changing situation regarding coroinavirus and a large number of people to consult, every important element needs to be taken into consideration. Please bear with us. We hope to have more information shortly,” they said.
Previous reports had suggested that a virtual contest could take place in 2020 – with each act instead performing in their native country.
James Newman was announced last month as the UK’s entry for the contest 2020 with his song ‘My Last Breath’.
It is the latest cultural event to be cancelled as coronavirus continues to spread across Europe. Earlier today, it was confirmed that Glastonbury Festival‘s 50th anniversary will not take place in June.
The cancellation came after the first full wave of acts was unveiled last week, led by headliners Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. At that point, the festival vowed to carry on in the hope that the virus crisis would improve.