Why is Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest?

Why do countries that aren't even in Europe get to compete?

Filomena Cautela who will be part of the presenting team for Eurovision 2018 holds up the sign for Australia during the Eurovision semi-final allocation draw on January 29, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Pedro Gomes/Getty Images, SD)

Australia is about as far away from Europe as you can get, so why is the country competing in the Eurovision Song Contest?

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Sit back, relax and allow us to explain.

How and why is Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest?

Aussies have been watching Eurovision for more than thirty years and in 2014 they were invited to perform during the interval at the semi-finals.

Then Australia was given a special one-off chance to compete for the Eurovision title in 2015, the year in which the competition celebrated its 50th birthday. They qualified automatically for a spot in the Grand Final and singer Guy Sebastian finished in a very respectable fifth place.

Eurovision bosses were so impressed with their efforts that Australia was allowed to return on an annual basis – but they now have to qualify for their spot by competing in the semi-finals.

But Australia’s not in Europe? And neither is Israel, or Azerbaijan? Why are they allowed to compete in Eurovision?

Well, Eurovision isn’t strictly geographic. The contest is organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is made up of various broadcasters from countries across Europe and beyond. The BBC is a member of the EBU, as is RTE in Ireland, Rai in Italy, SVT in Sweden and so on. There are 73 member stations from more than 56 countries, and they’re entitled to send acts to Eurovision if they wish.

So that’s why you see so many countries that you wouldn’t usually associate with Europe competing on the Eurovision stage.

What happens if Australia wins the Eurovision Song Contest?

We very nearly found out in 2016, when Dami Im stormed the competition and finished in second place with Sound of Silence. Everyone thought they might have to pack their bags and head Down Under for an Aussie Eurovision.

But that will probably never happen as there’s a special rule in place.

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If Australia wins the Eurovision it must nominate a European co-host, who will stage the competition on their behalf.