- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - The first semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest has sent 10 countries’ performers to the Grand Final - and ended the dream of nine others.

Contestants from Austria, Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Israel, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Finland and Ireland were chosen Tuesday night to advance in the competition after votes by a professional jury and the general public.

Performers from Greece, Switzerland, Armenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Belarus, Belgium, Iceland and Azerbaijan went home.

The second semifinal involving 18 countries is Thursday. That will also send 10 contestants on to the Grand Final, which will feature 26 contestants on Saturday. Five other countries and host Portugal automatically qualified for the final.

In total, 43 countries are taking part in the hugely popular annual event, which is in its 63rd year.

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