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The Eurovision connections of the Olympic Games



This week will see the event the world has been waiting an extra year for, the 32nd edition of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


The Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday and is a way for the host nation to show off their history, art, culture and sometimes... their Eurovision artists!


We've gone back over the last few decades to see where Eurovision artists and the Olympic intersect with a few surprises. Take a look:



1992 Summer Games in Barcelona


Andrew Lloyd -Webber



One of two theme songs for the Barcelona Olympics, 'Amigos para siempre' (Friends for Life) was performed by Jose Carreras and Sarah Brightman and composed by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.


Andrew Lloyd-Webber composed the UK's entry 'It's My Time' performed by Jade Ewan in 2009 finishing in 5th place.


'Amigos para siempre' was sung at the Closing Ceremony and also charted across Europe including no.11 in the UK.


But it was in Australia where it really excelled, reaching no.1 on the charts and becoming the fifth highest selling song of the year.



1996 Summer Games in Atlanta


Celine Dion



The 1987 Eurovision winner sang 'The Power of the Dream' at the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics.


Although it was the official song of the Olympics, it failed to have the same success as another theme track that year ('Reach' by Gloria Estefan) but still managed to chart at no.30 in Japan and no.49 in Quebec.



2000 Summer Games in Sydney


Olivia Newton-John



After an incredible career that included finishing 4th at Eurovision for the UK in 1974, Olivia performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. Joining another Australian musical artist John Farnham on stage, the duo sang one of the official songs 'Dare to Dream'.


The day before Newton-John had run with the Olympic flame in front of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge - fitting for an Australian legend.


Although the single didn't chart, the Olympic soundtrack featuring the song went no.1 in Australia.


Vanessa Amorosi



Amorosi, who finished 3rd at 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' in 2020, belted out the power ballad 'Heroes Live Forever' at the Opening Ceremony in Sydney.


She backed this up by also performing her smash hit 'Absolutely Everybody' at the Closing Ceremony. A fantastic achievement by Vanessa who had just turned 19-years-old the month before.


The song had reached no.6 in Australia but was released internationally after the performance going Top 10 all over Europe including no.7 in the UK.



2004 Summer Games in Athens


Marinella

Marinella is Greece’s first ever Eurovision entrant who sung ‘Krasi, thalassa ke t'agori mou’ at Eurovision 1974 and came 11th. She performed at the Athens 2004 Closing Ceremony at 66-years-old where she sung a traditional big hit ‘ΑΝΑΨΕ ΤΟ ΤΣΙΓΑΡΟ’ which translates to ‘Light My Cigarette’.


The song is a traditional Greek song by rebetiko songwriter and singer Gerasimos Klouvatos.

Anna Vissi


Greek-Cypriot singer Anna Vissi is a Eurovision veteran. She competed three times. The first time representing Greece with the song ‘Autostop’ which finished in 13th place in 1980. She returned two years later representing Cyprus at Eurovision 1982 in Harrogate with the song ‘Mono i agapi’, finishing in 5th place. In 2006 she made a huge comeback representing Greece in Athens with ‘Everything’ finishing in 9th place.


She was treated like a superstar at the Closing Ceremony in Athens she sung an array of songs were you would have thought you were watching an Anna Vissi live concert instead.


Her most notable songs she performed were ‘Eisai’ from her album ‘Paraksenes Eikones’ which topped the charts in Greece and Cyprus. The English version of ‘Eisai’, ‘Call Me’ went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart in the US in 2005.



Anna Vissi also sung ‘Misirlou’ with Michalis Hatzigiannis. Michalis represented Cyprus at Eurovision 1998 with his self penned song ‘Genesis’ he finished in 11th place.




Sakis Rouvas


Sakis Rouvas represented Greece at Eurovision twice first time in 2004 with the iconic ‘Shake It’ and the second time in 2009 with the energetic ‘This Is Our Night’ both entries making the top 10 during Greece’s golden age at Eurovision in the 2000’s with eight entries making the Top 10 in that decade.

At the Athens 2004 Olympics, Sakis, the former pole vaulter, had the honour in carrying the Olympic torch through Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, the birthplace and location of the modern Olympic Games back in 1896.


During the Athens 2004 Closing Ceremony this Greek God of an entertainer was one of the big stars of the show, like Nikki Webster he flew through the air within the stadium held by cables. He sung a traditional Greek song ‘Karapiperim' a rebetiko song by Giannis Papaioanou. Sakis gave a high energy performance that saw him stumble, but he recovered and to continue dancing and singing.




Michalis Hatzigiannis

As mentioned earlier Michalis Hatzigiannis represented Cyprus at Eurovision in 1998. At the Athens 2004 Closing Ceremony Michalis sang one of hit hit songs ‘Gia Sena’ taken from his 2004 album ‘Akatallili Skini’ which went to No. 1 in Greece and Cyprus.




2006 Winter Games in Torino


Evgeni Plushenko



Evgeni is the one athlete on the list.... and why is he on a list about Eurovision performers? Well he was the "Russian man on skates" as part of Dima Bilan's winning performance of 'Believe' in 2008.


Plushenko was an incredibly successful figure skater, a three-time World Champion, he also won two golds and two silvers at the Olympics. His first gold medal coming in Torino in the singles competition.


He is surely the only person who can claim to be a World, Olympic and Eurovision champion!



2010 Winter Paralympics Vancouver and 2014 Winter Paralympics Sochi


Diana Gurtskaya



Diana Gurtskaya who finished 11th at Eurovision in 2008 for Georgia was an official ambassador for the Sochi Winter Olympics


The singer, who is blind, took part in the handover presentation during the Closing Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She also got to carry the Olympic flame and would then go on to perform at the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi games alongside José Carreras.



2012 Summer Games London


Jedward


Before reaching London, the Olympic torch went on an epic voyage across the United Kingdom but also made a stop off in Ireland.


Running with the torch on the streets of Dublin were the Irish duo Jedward who competed at both the 2011 and 2012 Eurovision Song Contests.


The pair, described the experience with a level of usual Jedward energy saying,


“It was such an honour to carry the Olympic torch in the relay. Thank you, guys, so much for all coming out and being so Jepic and so Jedicated to the Olympics. We’re so excited to be here. The Olympic Torch is so symbolic, you better be watching the Olympics. Go, Team Ireland!”

2014 Winter Games Sochi


t.A.T.u



t.A.T.u finished 3rd at Eurovision in 2003 and were also guest performers at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow.


Five years later with the world's eyes on Russia again, the pair performed inside the stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Although their set wasn't included in the TV broadcast, they were still very much part of the Olympic experience.


Julia Samoylova



Juliya Samoylova who competed at Eurovision in 2018 (after missing out in 2017) performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi.


Galina Koneva (Buranovskiye Babushki)


Before the Olympics took place in Sochi the Olympic torch travelled across Russia including in Izhevsk in the Udmurtia region.


One of the most famous exports from Udmurtia was of course "the grannies' Buranovskiye Babushki. The group finished 2nd at Eurovision two years earlier with 'Party for Everybody' in Baku.


Their achievements were rewarded with one of the members, Galina Koneva, carrying the torch in their capital.


A special moment for Galina who was 75-years-old at the time.




2016 Summer Games in Rio


Polina Gagarina and Dima Bilan


Two of Russia's biggest Eurovision stars, Dima Blina and Polina Gagarina took part in the Olympic torch relay in 2016.


Dima, the Eurovision 2008 winner, ran first before handing over to Eurovision 2015 runner-up Polina in Guapimirim, Brazil.


We're not quite sure why the Russian pair were involved in the Brazilian torch relay, but they are legends of our Song Contest so we won't complain!

With the games being held in Tokyo, it's quite unlikely we'll see Eurovision artists pop-up on Friday evening.


But with the Olympics heading to France in 2024, Italy in 2026 and quite likely Australia in 2032, there looks to be plenty more opportunities for these two great events to cross paths again.


The Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics will be on at 8:00pm local time in Tokyo on Friday 23 July, which is 9:00pm here in Australia.