GENEVA (AFP) - It has delighted and appalled viewers from Belfast to Belgrade for over 50 years but one continent is no longer enough for the Eurovision Song Contest, which said Thursday it will take its show to Asia. Japan, China and India will be among the 15 Asian countries sending their kitsch-clad crooners to compete for glory, said the Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union in a statement. "Having brought the European version of the Eurovision Song Contest to the Middle East and North Africa, we are now delighted that viewers across Asia will enjoy one of the best established entertainment shows in the world," said Eurovision TV's Bettina Brinkmann. Asia's version will start in 2009, and involve competitors from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. "The format is highly suited to the Asia region and its people who love popular music and have a strong national pride," says Andreas Gerlach, CEO of Asiavision Pte. Ltd, the company which would produce and market the programme. "Asia today is all about competition, economically and politically. The Song Contest is a friendly competition between cultures," he added. Tournaments would take place over a six-month period in the regional and national levels, culminating in the grand final. The Eurovision Song Contest started in Switzerland's Italian-speaking city of Lugano in 1956, and has over the years developed into a regular on the European television schedule. Previous winners have included Abba, Sandie Shaw, Buck's Fizz and Katrina and the Waves, but in recent years the competition has been dominated by eastern European states, giving rise to accusations of bloc voting.