Tonight, the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 will take place in the Altice Arena in Lisbon. Artists from 26 countries will take part, including Jessica Mauboy from Australia. Although Australia is located in the southern hemisphere, the country has been taking part in the contest since 2015 and has finished in the top ten every time. But how did a country located over 15,000 kilometres from this year’s host city get to participate in a European contest?
Australia’s Eurovision History
Australia has a long history with Eurovision. The contest was first broadcast there in 1983 and Australia sent their own commentators to the event for the first time in 2002. Many Australian artists have represented other countries over the years such as Olivia Newton-John (1974) and Gina G (1996) for the United Kingdom and Mary-Jean Anaïs O’Doherty (2015) for Armenia. For the 60th contest in 2015, Australia were granted a “once-off” participation by the EBU. Australia automatically qualified for the final and were able to vote in both semi-finals. Their participant that year, Guy Sebastian, came fifth with “Tonight Again”. Although originally intended as a “once-off” participation, Australia were invited back to participate again as full-time participants for the 2016 contest. They were also invited to participate in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, which they have also done since 2015.
What Happens If Australia Wins?
When Dami Im won the jury vote in the 2016 contest, a lot of people started asking how Australia would host the contest. If Australia did win, the contest would not be hosted there, due to the fact that it would have to start very early in the morning to accommodate European viewers. Instead, the contest would be held in a European city, with the Australian broadcaster acting as a co-host broadcaster. In fact, two radio stations, FM104 in Ireland and KIIS 106.5 in Australia, have come up with a plan for Australia to win and to have Ireland host the contest for them. The plan was even backed by Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister.
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