Second Eurovision semi-final sees favourites Ukraine and Australia in final

Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium through to Saturday's final

13 May 2016, 9:41am
Ukrainian entry, Jamal's song has stirred some political tensions with Russia
Ukrainian entry, Jamal's song has stirred some political tensions with Russia
The Ukrainian and Australian entries for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest have made it through to the final on Saturday. The entries, tipped as favourites to win the contest, competed with eighteen other contenders for a place in the final.

The 10 countries that qualified on Thursday are Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium, and they will be joining Azerbaijan, Russia, The Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Malta, Austria, Armenia, Czech Republic and Cyprus who all made it through the first semi-final on Tuesday. Saturday will also see the “big five” countries that qualify for the final every year, including the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and last year’s winners Sweden.

The Ukrainian entry, jazz artist Jamala, which got through Thursday's heat, has stirred political tensions with Russia according to reports. Jamala is the first ever Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest, and her song 1944 is about former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, Crimea and claims of ethnic cleansing. Russia annexed Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014, as conflict between the countries escalated.

However, the Ukrainian entry is not the only one stirring political tensions, with reports that Armenia’s entry (which made it to the final during Tuesday’s contest), is facing possible sanctions after singer Iveta Mukuchyan brandished the flag of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The separatist region is officially part of Azerbaijan but currently is under the control of the local ethnic Armenian forces.

Among the other contenders to make it through Thursday’s semi-final, was the Australian X Factor winner Dami Im, who was mentored by pop star Dannii Minogue. The entry was voted through to the final with her song Sound Of Silence, and the country was invited to join the contest for its 60th anniversary in 2015, despite being on the other side of the planet.  

One of the surprises of the night was perhaps Ireland contestant, former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne being knocked out of the Eurovision Song Contest after failing to qualify for Saturday's final.

Ireland is the most successful country in the contest's 61 year history, with a total of seven wins, but the country’s Eurovision fortunes have waned over the past few years, especially since the introduction of the weeknight semi-final rounds.

Furthermore, the contest has presented something of a bad year for the usually successful Scandinavian entries, with Denmark and Norway being knocked out in the semi-finals, which were decided based on a combination of public and jury voting. Iceland and Finland also failed to make it through.