After the Open Call for nominations for the European Capital of Culture for 2020 in the Republic of Croatia that was opened in June 2014, several cities prepared for this nomination. The finalists in the Call were the cities of Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka, and in the final round the city of Rijeka was chosen as the winner with the project entitled ‘Port of Diversity’. After several years of preparation of a number of programmes, projects and investment in cultural infrastructure, the grand opening of ECOC, the biggest cultural project since the independence of Croatia occurred on the 1st of February 2020. Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture also coincided with the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which was seen as a great opportunity for Croatian arts and culture to be presented internationally, and thus amplified expectations and plans. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the majority of the prepared programmes and projects were cancelled, and the programme of Rijeka 2020 continued on a reduced scale with a number of online events. Although the timeframe of the project was officially extended, the expected impact of the project locally, nationally and internationally will not be as expected.