Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Chantal Janzen had fully booked the second week of May: the Eurovision Song Contest was to take place in Rotterdam and they had the honor to present it. In mid-March it became clear that the party was canceled because of the corona virus, but next Saturday there will still be some Eurovision fun for the fan, when Europe Shine a Light is broadcast.
"The Eurovision Song Contest belongs to the audience and that we have to do it without it really makes it more exciting. I live as an artist of the energy of the audience, now only we are in a room and you have to find a balance in energy. That may well feel different than normal ", says Rombley in conversation with NU.nl.
Janzen: "You are much more dependent on each other, which makes it nice, because you have two people to fall back on, but also a challenge. Normally you can go with the audience in terms of energy, now you really have to be careful that you not going too fast at once, or that it will be very gloomy. For that we will really have to play ping-pong, we have to be a team. "
41 countries would sing their song under the watchful eye of thousands of fans in Rotterdam Ahoy and millions of fans from all over the world, hoping to achieve the same as Duncan Laurence did in Tel Aviv a year earlier: dragging in the profits and thus the Song Festival to take home. The corona virus makes it all look different.
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'Rotterdam has worked hard'
In the past year, the three worked on their command of the English language, presented the draw in Rotterdam and prepared themselves as well as possible, until two months ago it was decided that the party would not be held.
Too bad, but according to Smit much worse for the participating artists and the organization. "There was already so much energy from a lot of people. The Eurovision team and the city of Rotterdam have worked very hard in the months before, for them it is much worse that it does not go ahead than for us as presenters. And think of the artists who would participate and who had already won preliminary rounds for this podium in their own country: they are not even sure whether they can come again next year. For us it is actually a nice rehearsal for next year. "
The Songfestival will now probably be organized in Rotterdam in 2021, but the NPO did not want to completely miss the 65th edition. That is why all artists will get a stage on May 16, when fragments of performances are broadcast, various artists come to sing classic Eurovision songs and Duncan Laurence can perform his new single.
Janzen: "That was really an important part of a crown edition like this: everyone had to be able to participate. You don't want it to be a Dutch party, you just want to hear from everyone and bring people together. Fortunately, all countries wanted likes to cooperate and in the end it will still be a party from all over Europe. "
"I participated twice myself and I have that image of people waving flags in my head as soon as I think of the Eurovision Song Contest. We want to create the same feeling of togetherness, that universal feeling, with the show that we are going to put on May 16" Rombley adds.
Less urgent due to coronavirus
The Song Festival is normally an event that fans look forward to for months. In the week itself, the game dominates on television, with semifinals, event reports and the final. The urgency is now a bit lacking, and the presenters understand that too.
"I also have it: I am mainly concerned with my children going back to school this week and whether everyone is healthy. That is very different from what this week would have looked like, we would have had rehearsals every day and multiple shows. Now I often don't even know what day of the week it is ", says Rombley.
Smit: "Usually I am already a week in advance and I am already completely in the Eurovision feeling. Now I have much more peace of mind, although I can not fully compare it, because I do not know how I felt if we had all the rehearsals now. I understand very well that a lot of people don't realize that this week the Eurovision Song Contest had been held, but the more fun it is that we can offer something festive on Saturday. "
The municipality of Rotterdam has already promised to organize the Song Festival in 2021 and Ahoy is also still enthusiastic. Smit, Janzen and Rombley have already been told that they can present the event, if it does go ahead.