The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual international song competition in which the majority of the contestants come from European countries. The pandemic ruled out last year’s festival, but Eurovision’s executive supervisor Martin Österdahl made sure that nothing else will stop the contest this year. Now, participants are more pumped than ever before.

This year, the Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Because of the pandemic and recent events, this year’s contest is seen as symbolic, and the artists see it as a collaborative mission—and a challenge—to balance public safety and entertainment. 39 candidates feel a strong sense of responsibility to further this cause, and many have been training for nearly two years, refusing to let the pandemic get in the way for the second time. “It’s all a part of getting back to normal. We always said no matter what happens with the pandemic we will have a song contest,” Österdahl said. 26 out of 39 countries have re-selected their previous year’s entries and all have been rehearsing in Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena for more than a week ever since they were given the go signal. They continue to adhere to strict safety protocols and every 48 hours, everyone on site is also expected to be tested. A maximum of 3,500 people is allowed entry in the arena in each of the semi-finals and grand final.

The participants used a variety of methods to avoid contracting the virus when traveling to the hotels and rehearsing on location. Despite the challenges they faced, each artist expressed their desire to make Eurovision 2021 a success, urging them to return to the stage and perform enthusiastically once more.