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Did an administrative error rob Australia of Eurovision glory?

Nick Duffy May 16, 2016

An administrative error has been uncovered in this year’s Eurovision results – and it’s bad news for fans of Australia.

Ukrainian singer Jamala took the Eurovision Song Contest trophy on Saturday with her song ‘1944’, referencing the persecution of the Crimean Tartars.

She took 534 points on the night, ahead of Australia’s Dami Im on 511 points, and ahead of Russia’s Sergey Lazarev – who won the popular vote but got just 491 points.

However, the contest’s new voting system may have led to a critical mistake, according to one member of Denmark’s professional jury who has spoken out.

As a member of the Danish jury, Hilda Heick was expected to rank the songs from 1 to 26 – with 1 being the best and 26 the worst.

However, Ms Heick was confused by the instructions for the contest’s new voting system and did exactly the opposite – thinking she was meant to award ’26 points’ to her favourite and ‘1 point’ to her least favourite.

The blunder meant that her favourite entry, Australia, was counted by officials as her least favourite; while her least favourite, Ukraine, was ranked as her favourite.

Number-crunchers have worked out that with the mix-up taken into account, Ukraine would have got zero points from the Danish jury as a whole instead of 12, while Australia would have got the 12 points, up from 10.

Ms Heick confessed to Danish tabloid BT: “My heart stopped… When you realise you’ve done something wrong, it’s really mortifying. When I saw the other [jury member’s votes], I could see that I had voted the opposite way to them.”

The seismic mistake prevented Australia from coming within inches of winning the contest – with a corrected tally leaving Dami Im on 513 total points, behind Jamala on 524.

If just one other jury member in another country made the same error in the same direction, Australia could have won.

The juror added that after getting abuse over the incident, she was left upset and unwilling to be involved with Eurovision in the future.

The 69-year-old said: “It’s my huge mistake and I completely admit it – but I am not senile, despite people saying on Facebook that I should retire and be kept away from everything.

“It may well happen that I do not say yes to more with [Danish Eurovision selection] Melodi Grand Prix in the future – but I will not retire yet.”

It’s not the only interesting quirk of the new voting system: the new method of separating jury and televoting points also resulted in a different winner.

If the 2015 voting system had been used, and combined jury-televote averages released for each country, Australia would have taken the trophy.

Basically, Dami Im might be the most Eurovison-winning person to never win Eurovision.

More: Australia, Dami Im, Europe, eurovision, eurovision song contest, Gay, LGBT, ukraine, Ukraine, Ukrainian

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