Over the past months, city officials from Oslo, Bærum (the municipality near Oslo where the Telenor Arena was located) and Düsseldorf have exchanged extensive knowledge about hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. The Host City Insignia Exchange gives Düsseldorf the opportunity to thank their Oslo and Bærum colleagues for their efforts and marks the official kick-off of the 2011 season.
The Semi-Final Allocation Draw
During the Semi-Final Allocation Draw it will be determined which country is being represented in which Semi-Final. It will also be determined which Semi-Final the 'Big Five' (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) will have to broadcast and vote in. The Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest say that each of the countries that pre-qualify for the Final will have to broadcast and vote in at least one of the Semi-Finals.
To assure maximum suspense, the 38 countries represented in the Semi-Finals will be drawn from six pots, based on voting patterns of 2010. This spreads countries that regularly exchange votes over the two Semi-Finals. After all, viewers can only vote for the other countries that take part in that respective Semi-Final. This procedure, introduced by the EBU in 2008, reduces the chance that countries will exchange votes based on cultural, linguistic and historical ties, and thereby could make the outcome of the Semi-Finals predictable.
Minor detail for the outside world; during the draw, it will also be decided if a country participates in the first or second half of the respective Semi-Final, so that delegations know well in advance on which day they are expected in Düsseldorf for their first stage rehearsal.
Four pots contain the names of six countries, two pots contain the names of seven countries. Half of the countries will be drawn into the first Semi-Final, the other half into the second Semi-Final. Eurovision.tv exclusively reveal what those pots look like during the draw:
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Israeli broadcaster IBA has asked to EBU to grant them a spot in the second Semi-Final, due to their memorial day on the 10th of May. German Host Broadcaster NDR asked the EBU to allocate them to broadcast and vote in the second Semi-Final for scheduling reasons. Both requests have been granted.
The draw will be supervised by Jon Ola Sand, the newly appointed Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union, and a Digame representative. Digame is the EBU's official voting partner and handles the pan-European response platform over which the contest's voting runs.
The first Semi-Final will take place on Tuesday, 10th of May. The second Semi-Final is scheduled for Thursday, 12th of May. The Final of the Eurovision Song Contest will traditionally follow on Saturday, 14th of May.
What about the running order?
The second draw, to decide upon the starting order of the songs in each Semi-Final and the Final, will be conducted - as usual - at the Heads of Delegation meeting in March.
Where can I follow the draw?
Due to the fact that the ceremony is not being televised, no live webcast is available. Eurovision.tv will update you live on the draw outcome through Twitter.