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Eurovision Song Contest: Who are the ‘Big 5’ and why do they automatically qualify each year?

The Eurovision 2022 final takes place in Turin, Italy tonight.

The first semi-final took place on Tuesday night, with Ukraine, Switzerland, Armenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Moldova, and The Netherlands all making it through to tonight’s final.

The second semi-final took place on Thursday, and saw Finland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Sweden, Romania and Serbia qualify for the main event.

Picture Andres Poveda

These 20 countries will also be competing against ‘The Big 5’ – who automatically qualify for the final each year. These countries are France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and Italy.

The ‘Big Five’ (formerly ‘Big Four’) are the group of countries who make the biggest financial contributions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

In 2000, a rule was created to allow those countries direct entry into the final of the Eurovision Song Contest regardless of their placing in the previous year’s contest, fear of relegation, or having to go through a semi-final.

The rule originally applied to France, Germany, Spain and the UK, but when Italy returned to the song contest in 2011, the rule also applied to them.

This year’s ‘Big 5’ acts include Sam Ryder with his song ‘Space Man’ for the UK, Mahmood & BLANCO with ‘Brvidi’ for Italy, Alvan & Ahez with ‘Fulenn’ for France, Chanel with ‘SloMo’ for Spain, and Malik Harris with ‘Rockstars’ for Germany.

They will perform on Saturday night’s grand finale alongside the 20 other countries who made it out of their respective semi-finals.

The grand final will air on RTÉ One tonight from 8pm.

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