Eurovision 2021: Why is Australia competing, and what happens if they win?

For six years, Australia’s involvement in Eurovision has led to confusion – but here’s everything you need to know

Adam White@__adamwhite
Wednesday 19 May 2021 11:51
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Montaigne represents Australia in First Semi-Final of Eurovision 2021.mp4

For the last six years, Australia has been permitted to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. And for the last six years, every viewing party in the country has therefore played host to a single question: how come Australia are in the Eurovision Song Contest?

It’s partly rooted in a common misconception. Eurovision doesn’t actually have much to do with Europe, which is why, of the many indignities brought upon by Brexit, the UK’s presence at the annual competition was never under threat. But the rules of Eurovision participation are also deliberately vague, which explains why we’re left confused about who gets to take part in it.

This year, Sydney-based pop star Montaigne will represent Australia at Eurovision with her track “Technicolour”. She also won’t be the last to sing for her country: in 2019, it was announced that Australia will be a part of the competition until at least 2023.

The country’s involvement in Eurovision stems from Australian adoration for the contest. In 2015, the European Broadcasting Union – the alliance of international media organisations that produces the competition – invited Australia to participate in Eurovision to mark the contest’s 60th anniversary.

Australia has long treated Eurovision as one of the highlights of its TV calendar, and the decision was made as a gesture of thanks. Imagine it like a Harry Potter super-fan being written into the books because they just liked them a lot more than other people.

While the EBU said in 2015 that Australia’s presence in the contest will be decided on a year-by-year basis, it has so far stuck. Australia, however, won’t play host to Eurovision if they ever win. Rather, they would co-host with a country officially in the EBU – likely Germany or the UK.

Montaigne, who will represent Australia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest

As a bit of further context, the EBU encapsulates a variety of different countries and their respective public broadcasting services, which is why non-EU states including Israel, Morocco and now the UK – to name but a few – participate each year.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest takes place on 22 May, with the semi-finals taking place on 18 and 20 May.

Representing the UK is singer-songwriter James Newman, whose presence is being rolled over from the cancelled 2020 ceremony, which was axed due to the pandemic.

Read the latest Eurovision odds here.

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