Australia head to Eurovision final after Sheldon Riley’s dazzling turn in Turin

Amid these performances, Britain’s Sam Ryder emerged as a slightly unexpected contender. The UK staging is uneven but the song (space man) and singer are solid, and after solid dress rehearsals — the song won’t debut in official competition until the weekend — it’s generating substantial buzz backstage.

Speaking after the show, Riley fought back tears as she acknowledged the impact Eurovision 2014 winner Conchita Wurst had on her youth. “I fell so deeply in love,” Riley said. “I know seeing Conchita has changed many lives. When people have the chance to see the difference, they will choose it.

Australian Sheldon Riley performs during his Eurovision dress rehearsal this week.Credit:Andres Putting / EBU

Riley said the two-minute announcement of the 10 selected semifinalists felt much longer. “It’s weird,” he said. “I have to be honest, I want to be authentic at all times. I’m no stranger to waiting for the votes to be announced. I’ve done enough [reality TV] shows to find out how it feels.

“It’s the worst feeling in the world, it’s so bad,” Riley added. “With this one, I felt like a little kid again. My heart was leaping. I think that’s what really proves to me that I’m in the right place, and I’m doing what I wanted because it was the first time i really seemed to care [about the result].”

As many now anticipate a victory for Ukraine, thanks to a strong song and performer, but also in reaction to the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia, attention is already turning to where the contest could be held in 2023.

It is Eurovision custom for the winning country to host the following year’s event, but with much of the country’s main infrastructure damaged or destroyed by war, the general feeling behind the scenes is that a another country is likely to intervene.

The winning country has refused to host at least seven times in Eurovision history, including 1963, when France passed it on after winning three times, and 1972, when Monaco won the year previous year but did not have the facilities to host the contest. In both cases, the UK stepped in to host the competition.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) would most likely offer the first runner-up country the chance to host the event, and then likely offer it to one of the “big five” countries.

Meanwhile, Stockholm Mayor Anna Konig Jerlmyr has contacted Ukraine’s ambassador to Sweden to confirm that Stockholm would be willing to host the competition if Ukraine wins, according to the newspaper. Aftonbladet reported.

Stockholm is a “sister city” to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and has offered to host a number of other events, including sporting events, which have been canceled or delayed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Australia’s future in the competition is also up for discussion, according to the competition’s executive supervisor, Martin Osterdahl. Under the current deal, Australia has been invited until the 2023 contest.

Asked today if Australia have a longer-term future in the competition, or if a standing invitation could be extended, Osterdahl said this would be ‘discussed with the reference group in due course’.

The 10-member Eurovision Reference Group is made up of several current national heads of delegation, executive producers (from two previous host countries and the current host country) and other broadcasting and entertainment experts. Eurovision. They are used periodically to shape Eurovision policy.

Despite a declared position of political neutrality, Eurovision has been embroiled in the political fallout from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Under pressure from other competing nations – and the risk of them pulling out en masse – the EBU was forced to exclude Russia from the contest.

Although Russia has not officially announced an artist or song, the move represents the first time in the contest’s history that an artist has been penalized by the EBU for the actions of their national government.

Italy’s 2021 winners Maneskin are set to perform in the final this weekend.

Eurovision’s television audience is estimated at 182 million viewers, drawn from the more than 40 participating countries, the United States on the Peacock streaming platform and other territories via the EBU’s YouTube web streams.

The final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast live from 5am Sunday on SBS. The two semi-finals will be repeated on Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m.; the final will be repeated on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

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