eurovision 2016, sweden.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ANDERS WIKLUND SWEDEN OUT

Acts from Australia, Israel and Ukraine are tipped to advance Thursday from the second of two semi-finals to qualify acts for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest grand finale this week in Stockholm.

Australia – represented by female singer Dami Im - makes its second appearance at the annual competition, which attracts millions of viewers each year. The inclusion of Australia is in recognition of a strong fan base and a 30-year history of broadcasting the glitzy event run by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Dami Im has been tipped as having a good chance of reaching the final on Saturday in the Swedish capital.

In all, 18 countries are vying for 10 remaining spots Thursday. They are selected by viewers and professional juries in 21 countries to complete the final line-up of 26 acts from as many countries.

Thursday's field includes Ukraine’s Jamala, who, judging by online bookmakers, is in contention for the overall win.

Jamala has generated some controversy for her song, titled 1944, which refers to the year Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered the mass deportation of ethnic minority Tartars from Crimea to Central Asia.

Singer Hovi Star represents Israel, a country that has won the Eurovision prize three times, while seven-time winner Ireland pins its hopes on Sunlight, performed and co-written by Nicky Byrne, a member of disbanded boyband Westlife.

The semi-final, staged at Stockholm’s Globen arena, opens with Latvia and will be rounded off by Belgium.

Another of the top contenders, Russia's Sergey Lazarev, qualified late Tuesday along with nine other acts from the first semi-final.

Six countries already have a berth to the final. These include Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - because they are automatically qualified as major funders of the EBU - and host Sweden, which won last year.

In all, 42 countries are entered this year, the 61st edition of the event.

Latest news

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Messi grabs winner as Barcelona go top with victory over Atletico

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.

Croatian government condemns extremism

The Croatian government on Sunday condemned all forms of extremism and acts of provocative nature aimed against the Serb minority in Vukovar as well as the rally organised by the Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) in Zagreb on Friday.