ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — American rapper Flo Rida will inject extra star power to the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest on Thursday night, when he joins San Marino singer Senhit’s performance.
“It’s such a good feeling to be back in Europe after so long,” the rapper said in comments released by the popular contest’s organizers. “I’m very grateful to be able to perform once again, and on the biggest stage in the world.”
Tiny San Marino, a city state surrounded by Italy, is one of 17 national acts performing at the Ahoy arena in Rotterdam Thursday night seeking one of the 10 final berths up for grabs at the musical spectacle that is returning after missing 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s grand final features 20 nations from the two semifinals along with the so-called big five nations of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, plus host nation the Netherlands.
Up to 3,500 fans, who have to show a negative COVID-19 test, are allowed to attend each dress rehearsal, semifinal and final, making the contest one of the biggest live events in Europe since the pandemic upended public life.
The fans are allowed in as part of a Dutch government-sanctioned test event to evaluate how large-scale events can be safely staged as the country gradually emerges from lockdown.
The coronavirus cost Iceland the chance of performing in the second semifinal, with band Dadi og Gagnamagnid pulling out Wednesday after one member tested positive. They are still competing, however, and a recording of one of their dress rehearsals will be played instead.
Also, the Dutch 2019 winner, Duncan Laurence, tested positive and will not perform at Saturday’s final, organizers announced.