The Eurovision Song Contest 2020 was to have been staged at Rotterdam Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 12, 14 and 16 May 2020. On 18 March 2020, the EBU announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and after exploring other alternative options, the event would be cancelled. This marked the first time the contest was ever cancelled in its over 60-year history.
A field of 10 interested cities were pared down to two - Rotterdam and Maastricht. The Hague (host in 1976 and 1980), Zwolle and Leeuwarden withdrew their bids due to their proposed venues being deemed unsuitable (The Hague later endorsed the Rotterdam bid), while Breda dropped out due to financial concerns. Amsterdam (host in 1970) withdrew due to unavailability for their proposed venues. Arnhem, 's-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht also applied.
On 4 December 2019, the presenting trio were revealed by NPO. They are Edsilia Rombley, Chantal Janzen and Jan Smit. Chantal and Jan were to have handled the main presenting duties, with Edsilia in the green room.
Edsilia is best known for her participations at Eurovision in 1998 with Hemel en Aarde and in 2007 with On Top of the World. She has also co-hosted several editions of the popular Eurovision in Concert pre-party in Amsterdam. Chantal is a popular Dutch TV presenter and is a 5-time winner of the Golden Television Star award. Jan has been a member of the Dutch group De Toppers since late 2017 and is the Dutch co-commentator for Eurovision alongside Cornald Maas.
Aside from the main presenting trio, popular Dutch social media celebrity NikkieTutorials was planned to be hosting special online features for the 2020 contest.
In the 2020 host city reveal video, reigning Eurovision winner Duncan Laurence asked: "What's it really about?" This year's theme, Open Up, answers Duncan's question. It is an invitation to the world to Rotterdam to open themselves up to music and celebrate the things that make people unique.
As ESC 2020 executive producer Sietse Bakker explains:
“We have looked for a theme and slogan that reflect what the Netherlands stands for and which the Dutch can identify with; a country with an open mind to the world, where we speak our mind, with respect for each other. We also found it important to choose a theme that reflects the spirit of our times. People are concerned about increasing polarization and freedom isn’t as self-evident for everyone as it should be. With the slogan 'Open Up’, we warmly invite people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other's stories and of course to each other's music.”
Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand says:
“Open Up is the perfect slogan for the Eurovision Song Contest as it celebrates its 65th edition. In 1956, only 7 countries could watch the competition and since then we have opened up to the whole of Europe, to Australia and now, via streaming, to the whole world. The values of the Eurovision Song Contest are universality and inclusivity, and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music. Now we can add a new one – that of openness.”
The theme art, unveiled on 28 November 2019, tells a unique story of 65 years of the contest's history. Building on previous Dutch logo designs, it is an abstract representation of the flags of the 41 participating countries in the order of their first appearance. Five beams of blue light also radiate from the central circle, representing each of the Netherlands' five Eurovision victories.
Stage construction was due to start at Ahoy on 6 April. With restrictions on large social gatherings in the Netherlands until at least 1 June, it was decided that the venue would be turned into a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.
2020 Compilation Album
The compilation album for the 2020 contest was re-branded as a tribute album to the 41 scheduled participants. Originally slated for an April release, it was officially pushed back to 15 May. The album debuted at #2 in the United Kingdom.
Eurovision Home Concerts
The EBU introduced the "Eurovision Home Concert" series. Each Friday episode featured past and present Eurovision artists performing live in their own homes. The week's featured artists performed 2 songs each: the entry they presented (or in the case of the 2020 participants, would present) at the contest, plus a song voted on by fans via Twitter and Instagram. 7 episodes aired on the Eurovision YouTube channel from 3 April to 15 May.
The EBU, along with several other broadcasters, started exploring ways to fill gaps in their schedules vacated by the cancellation of the contest. Australia, Austria, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom among other countries later announced their own special programming featuring an internal competition element.
The EBU later announced that in place of the grand final on 16 May, a special tribute show titled Europe Shine a Light would air to honor the 2020 participants in a non-competitive format as a show of spirit and unity. It was held at Stage 21 of Media Park in Hilversum and hosted by Edsilia Rombley, Chantal Janzen and Jan Smit, with NikkieTutorials hosting exclusive online content. 70 million viewers tuned in to watch the special.
On 12 and 14 May, which were to have been the two semifinals, the EBU aired the "Eurovision Song Celebration" on its YouTube channel. The semifinalists and the direct finalists had already been allocated into their respective semis and halves through the official allocation draw on 28 January, with the official running orders decided on by the 2020 contest's producers revealed during each episode. A "Fan Recap" was also added to each show, inviting Eurovision fans to dance to and celebrate their favorite 2020 entries.
From 28 March 2020, every Saturday featured "Eurovision Again", an interactive viewing party of past contests hosted by Eurovision fan Rob Holley. 15 minutes prior to the start of each live stream, the chosen year is revealed and fans are invited to vote for their favorite acts on Twitter during the show. The EBU has since gotten on board following the presentation of the 2006 contest, working with its members to unearth some of the classic contests such as 1974, 1988, 1991 and 1997 and airing them on the official Eurovision YouTube channel.
Contests prior to 2004 are still the property of their respective broadcasters, which meant they were only available on YouTube for one week following its initial showing.
Weekly Saturday showings ended on 27 June. As of 18 July, airings continued on the third Saturday of every month.
On 3 May 2020, digital content host NikkieTutorials launched "Eurovisioncalls", a miniseries on the official ESC YouTube channel. In each episode, Nikkie has a conversation with each of the 2020 participants in which fans can learn how each artist has been holding up since the cancellation, their inspirations, and musical plans for the future. Additionally, information about the artist's entry and performance plans are also discussed. Two to three episodes were featured each day.
Fan communities also held their own Eurovision 2020 contests and polls following the cancellation news. Among them was a full contest event organized by the forum community at ESCUnited which was held throughout the month of April. It was given the full contest experience, with official running orders and "live shows" for results as well as the forum's members acting as the national juries and vote spokespersons.
Semi Final One
During the Eurovision Song Celebration episodes, the intended official running order was released as follows
|02||Belarus||VAL||Da vidna||Belarusian||Before dawn|
|03||Australia||Montaigne||Don't Break Me||English||--|
|04||North Macedonia||Vasil Garvanilev||You|
|06||Lithuania||The Roop||On Fire||English||--|
|07||Ireland||Lesley Roy||Story of My Life|
|08||Russia||Little Big||Uno||English, Spanish||One|
|10||Malta||Destiny Chukunyere||All of My Love|
|11||Croatia||Damir Kedžo||Divlji vjetre||Croatian||Wild winds|
|15||Israel||Eden Alene||Feker Libi||English, Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic||Love in my heart|
Semi Final Two
|02||Estonia||Uku Suviste||What Love Is|
|06||Czech Republic||Benny Cristo||Kemama|
|07||Serbia||Hurricane||Hasta la Vista||Serbian|
|09||Iceland||Daði & Gagnamagnið||Think About Things|
|10||Switzerland||Gjon's Tears||Répondez-moi||French||Answer me|
|11||Denmark||Ben & Tan||Yes||English||--|
|12||Albania||Arilena Ara||Fall From The Sky|
|13||Finland||Aksel Kankaanranta||Looking Back|
|14||Armenia||Athena Manoukian||Chains On You|
|15||Portugal||Elisa||Medo de sentir||Portuguese||Afraid of feeling|
|16||Georgia||Tornike Kipiani||Take Me As I Am||English||--|
|17||Bulgaria||Victoria||Tears Getting Sober|
|18||Latvia||Samanta Tīna||Still Breathing|
The automatic finalists were as follows:
|France||Tom Leeb||Mon Alliée (The Best In Me)||French, English||My Ally (The Best In Me)|
|Germany||Ben Dolic||Violent Thing||English||--|
|Italy||Diodato||Fai rumore||Italian||Make noise|
|The Netherlands (Host)||Jeangu Macrooy||Grow||English||--|
|United Kingdom||James Newman||My Last Breath||English||--|
- Andorra - RTVA confirmed on 22 May 2019 that Andorra would not return for 2020.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina - BHRT confirmed on 9 July 2019 that Bosnia and Herzegovina would not return for 2020 as it is still under sanctions from the EBU due to financial debts. It aired the Europe Shine a Light special on 16 May.
- Hungary - Hungary withdrew for 2020, as MTVA decided not to use A Dal as its selection process and instead use it to focus on its domestic talent scene.
- Kazakhstan - The EBU confirmed on 6 September 2019 that they have no plans to invite Kazakhstan to debut in 2020. It aired the Europe Shine a Light special on 16 May.
- Kosovo - The EBU confirmed on 28 June 2019 that Kosovo will not debut in 2020 or in the near future. Under the rules, a nation must be a full member of the ITU to apply for EBU membership, currently Kosovo (and its broadcaster RTK) holds non-member state status. It aired the Europe Shine a Light special on 16 May.
- Liechtenstein - 1FLTV confirmed on 7 August 2019 that Liechtenstein would not debut for 2020.
- Luxembourg - Despite a push by 1973 winner Anne Marie David, RTL confirmed on 23 July 2019 that Luxembourg would not return for 2020.
- Monaco - TMC confirmed on 6 August 2019 that Monaco would not return for 2020.
- Montenegro - Despite confirming its initial participation, Montenegro would not participate in the 2020 contest, RTCG citing its reason to withdraw as being unable to obtain the necessary means to compete. It aired the Europe Shine a Light special on 16 May.
- Slovakia - RTVS confirmed on 5 June 2019 that Slovakia would not return for 2020, citing lack of interest
- Turkey - TRT confirmed on 21 September 2019 that Turkey would not return for 2020.
- OMNI Television was to have aired all three shows in Canada on a same-day delay.
- The United States was due to have the 2020 contest on Netflix's on-demand service as per an agreement with the EBU.