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Netherlands, Sweden, Australia Tipped To Win Eurovision Final In Israel

Tamara Todevska of North Macedonia performs during the Eurovision Song Contest semifinal in Tel Aviv.

Bookmakers have made the Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia favorites going into the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the annual pop music fest that draws tens of millions of viewers from around the globe.

This final will take place on May 18 in Israel -- the country that won last year’s contest. Pop legend Madonna is scheduled to give a guest performance at the event.

Although Eurovision was first held in 1956 with the aim of uniting Europe after World War II, this year’s event in Tel Aviv has caused consternation among supporters of Israel and backers of Palestinian causes.

Palestinians are planning an alternative event called Globalvision to take place at the same time, with parties set in the West Bank city of Ramallah, London, and Dublin.

A total of 26 acts will compete for this year's prize.

Most countries went through preliminary competition to qualify for the final, while five core European countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain -- as well as host nation Israel received automatic berths.

Viewers and professional juries in all 41 participating countries will pick the winner, with the televoting and juries each representing 50 percent of the outcome.

No country can vote for its own contestant.

The newly renamed Western Balkan nation North Macedonia qualified for the event during the semifinals, as did Russia, Belarus, Serbia, and Azerbaijan.

The Netherlands' Duncan Laurence, who will sing a ballad titled Arcade, is the pre-event favorite, according to bookmakers.

Australia, while not a European nation, is also considered a potential winner with Kate Miller-Heidke's Zero Gravity.

John Lundvik, who will perform Too Late for Love, gives powerhouse Sweden a chance to win. Sweden's ABBA is perhaps the most famous winner of the competition, taking the honors in 1974.

Israel's Netta Barzilai captured the top prize in 2018 with her song Toy in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and
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