The Eurovision Song Contest is back and the betting is already in full swing, as Max Liu reports in his first odds update of 2021...
Malta are the early favourites to win Eurovision 2021 when the beloved Song Contest makes its eagerly-anticipated return on 22 May.
Last year's contest had to be scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic but this year's is set to come roaring back in Rotterdam this spring. It's always a big betting event and, with many of the leading countries (and the UK) unveiling their entries, the market is already hotting up.
That is better, however, than hosts and defending champions the Netherlands 640.00639/1.
The UK will be represented by James Newman with Embers ("a banger," says Newman but judge for yourself below).
The Swiss won the first Eurovision back in 1956 but 2021 favourites Malta 11/4 have never taken the title. They're hoping to change that with 'Je Me Casse' by Destiny.
Of course, Sweden are to Eurovision what Brazil are to the World Cup and at 9/1 the Swedes could well be in contention for their first winner since 2015.
Ireland, however, hold the record for the most wins but are 150/1 to claim an eighth this time.
It wouldn't be Eurovision with a bit of controversy. Belarus' entry 'Ya nauchu tebya', sung by pro-governmental group Galasy ZMesta, was excluded from taking part by the European Broadcasting Union who judged the lyrics contained political messaging. Belarus, where there has been significant protest followed by political oppression in the past year, are 150/1 to win Eurovision if they get to take part.
In terms of how the pandemic affects the planning, Eurovision have said they aim to have all 40 acts performing on stage in the Netherlands. Organisers have back-up scenarios in place to ensure Eurovision takes place, whatever's happening with the global pandemic.
Eurovision 2021 Top 10