May 15, 2020 / 6:22 PM / 3 months ago

Eurovision organisers plan alternative show to replace cancelled contest

FILE PHOTO: Fans watch on a big screen the 2019 Eurovision song contest final in the fans zone by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 19, 2019. REUTERS/ Corinna Kern

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Diehard Eurovision fans will not go entirely without this year. The 2020 song contest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but its organisers are set to host an alternative television show on Saturday, with video performances from past and present participants.

The two-hour-long, non-competitive show called ‘Europe Shine a Light’ will be broadcast by 40 public broadcasters across Europe. The makers said they want to “celebrate what Eurovision stands for and create a sense of unity across borders”.

The show will include all of this year’s entries together, singing “Love Shine a Light” from their respective living rooms by video link. The song by Katrina and the Waves was the winning entry in the 1997 Eurovision contest.

Former winners are also set to appear, including Serbia’s Marija Serifovic, who won in 2007. In a teaser clip on Eurovision’s Twitter account she can be seen getting ready for a performance in the deserted streets of the capital Belgrade.

The Eurovision Song Contest final is one of the world’s biggest television events and had been scheduled to take place in the Dutch city of Rotterdam on May 16.

The contest has been held annually since 1956, and was expected to draw up to 200 million viewers. Eurovision features live musical numbers from each participating country - more than 50 in recent editions - reaching beyond Europe to Israel and Australia.

It is scheduled to take place next year, again in Rotterdam, but participating countries will have to send in new songs, the European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, has said.

Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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