Second semi-final to complete Eurovision Song Contest final line-up

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.

Last update: Thu, 12/05/2016 - 12:39

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