Australia is a favourite to win the Eurovision Song Contest – but why is it even taking part?

 
Sarah Spickernell
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Guy Sebastian is considered fourth most likely to win (Source: Getty)
This year's Eurovision Song Contest will feature an addition to the normal line up – for the first time ever, Australia is taking part.
Not only that, but it's singer Guy Sebastian is the bookies' fourth favourite to win the whole event with his song “Tonight Again”.
It's not the only time a non-European country has taken part – Israel joined in 1973 and has won three times since then, while Azerbaijan is also a regular contestant and has won once. But these are at least neighbouring Europe, so what was behind the decision to introduce a country from the other side of the world?

“Building bridges”

As it is the 60th anniversary, Eurovision has this year chosen the theme of “building bridges”.
The European Broadcasting Union said it invited Australia to compete, and the Reference Group, which governs the contest, accepted the proposal.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying; let’s celebrate this party together,” executive supervisor Jon Ola said in a statement.
The country is classed as a “special guest” this year, but if it wins it will automatically be allowed to return, and there is a chance the invite will be extended permanently.
The show is being aired by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), and from its point of view Sebastian’s participation could lead to big ratings and more advertising.
The SBS has had to pay a significant fee to ensure that Sebastian goes straight to the last round, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, although the exact figure is not known. Others that do this are the UK, France and Italy.

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