Baku, January 26, AZERTAC
Stockholm hosted a draw ceremony to distribute a total of 37 countries into one of the two 2016 Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals, scheduled for May 10 and 12 here. The first semi-final will have 18 participants including Azerbaijan, Russia, Croatia, Finland, Moldova, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, San Marino, Cyprus, Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Iceland, Austria. The second Semi-Final will bring together 19 representatives from Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, Albania, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Norway, Romania and Slovenia. The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm is going to be the biggest contest for years with 43 participants, equaling the record set in both 2008 and 2011. It is the second time in history the city hosts the contest. The so-called BIG 5 -- Germany, UK, France, Spain and host country Sweden are automatically qualified to compete in the Grand Final scheduled for May 14. Ukraine will return to the contest after a one-year absence and Bosnia Herzegovina, which last competed in 2012, will also participate. Both countries have 100 percent qualification records to the Grand Final. Croatia and Bulgaria will return to the contest for the first time since 2013. Australia, which finished 5th in the Grand Final in 2015, will return to the contest. Unlike last year, they will compete in one of the Semi-Finals in Stockholm. Azerbaijan debuted at the contest in 2008 and has always presented remarkable shows since then. On its fourth attempt with Ell and Nikki's Running Scared song, the Land of Fire won the event, bringing the contest to Baku’s Crystal Hall in 2012. Last year Azerbaijani representative Elnur Huseynov, who competed for the second time at the contest after his debut in 2008, placed 12 with his mystical ballad “Hour of the Wolf”.