Dutch port city of Rotterdam to host Eurovision
THE HAGUE - AFP
Dutch broadcasters announced on Aug. 30 that the port city will host the 2020 edition of the glitzy Eurovision song contest.
The Netherlands won the right to host Eurovision after Dutch singer Duncan Laurence stormed to victory in this year's contest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
"Welcome to the Netherlands, welcome to Rotterdam," Laurence said in a special Eurovision video to announce the result.
He described it as a "city where being different doesn't make a difference at all, and where anybody can make it happen." The 25-year-old, who came out as bisexual in 2016 and has used his new high profile to advocate more tolerance, wooed audiences this year with his ballad "Arcade" about a romantic breakup.
Rotterdam and Maastricht were the final two Dutch cities left after organizers whittled down a shortlist that included Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Bosch and Arnhem.
"There were four criteria. The most important was the location of the venue. We are after all making a television show watched by some 200 million viewers," Eurovision song contest representative Sietse Bakker told broadcaster NOS as the result was shown on live TV.
Ahoy, whose name has an appropriately nautical theme based on the traditional sailor's cry, will host the Eurovision semi-finals on May 12 and 14, 2020, with the final on Saturday, May 16.
The main Ahoy Arena has seating space for 16,000 music fans and has been hosting music concerts and other events since 1971, including the 1997 and 2016 MTV Europe Music Awards and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
The Ahoy is also known as the spiritual home of Dutch darts -- a game which, much like Eurovision, baffles outsiders but rouses strong passions in both Britain and the Netherlands.