Eurovision 2016: Is Australia coming back?
Will Australia compete at the forthcoming 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm? Is Australia country #41?
Ever since the EBU tweeted that a 41st country would join us at Eurovision 2016, Eurofans have been busy speculating that it’s Australia. After all, during Eurovision 2015 Jon Ola Sand made comments that left the door wide open for Australia to return and Australia is making a debut at Junior Eurovision later this month.
Australia participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria. In honour of the contest’s 60th running and in recognition of the event’s popularity in Australia, it was announced on 10 February 2015 that Australia was to be invited to compete in the 2015 contest as a special guest participant.
In March 2015, SBS announced that it had selected Guy Sebastian to represent Australia; he performed the song “Tonight Again” written by himself, David Ryan Harris and Louis Schoorl. Along with Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, Australia was given an automatic entry into the grand final. Although this was considered a one-off event, Australia would, in accordance with Eurovision rules, still be able to return for the 2016 contest if it were to win. The EBU has considered the possibility of similarly inviting other guest countries to future editions of the contest. However it was revealed in May 2015 that Australia might become a permanent participant following some reports by executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand to the Swedish broadcaster.
Australia finished in fifth place in the final on 23 May, with a total of 196 points. In terms of individual votes, Sweden, Austria, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, Hungary, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Poland and San Marino all placed Australia in the top three.
The EBU have released the Public Rules of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest and they give the EBU plenty of room to decide whether Australia will have to endure a semi-final or move directly to the final.
The rules state that a maximum of 26 countries will compete in the grand final, with six guaranteed places — one for the host broadcaster and the others for the Big 5 (France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom). But the following is added:
“Subject to a decision by the EBU in consultation with the Reference Group, the number of guaranteed places in the Final may be modified depending on circumstances.”
This rule has been in place since 2011, presumably to accomodate Italy’s return to the contest. But the context has changed dramatically since then, most especially with Australia’s Eurovision debut, making this line rather important.
SBS neither denied or confirmed its participation in Eurovision next year. Thus leaving an open window for a possible participation and return to the contest.
We guess that the EBU is now figuring out when to make the announcement that Australia is joining us for good. We imagine they’ll announce soon. And if not, Junior Eurovision gives them the obvious time peg later this month.