- Harnaaz Sandhu of India has been crowned Miss Universe, defeating a field of 80 competitors in a pageant marred by politics and also the pandemic.
- Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat, former Miss Universe Andrea Meza of Mexico crowned her successor, a Bollywood actress.
On Sunday, India’s Harnaaz Sandhu has crowned Miss Universe, beating out a field of 80 contestants in a pageant marred by politics and the pandemic.
Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat, former Miss Universe Andrea Meza of Mexico crowned her successor, a Bollywood actress. The pageant was kept in the middle of the night to wrap up at 5 a.m. local time to fit into the US primetime schedule (10 p.m. EST).
The pageant had traditional displays of national costumes, swimwear, and a series of interview questions designed to assess the contestants’ public speaking abilities.
Full-length gowns with intricate gold, silver, or bronze beading adorned the top ten. Beatrice Luigi Gomez of the Philippines flaunted a new tattoo she described as “celebrating her womanhood” in an asymmetrical cut dress with one sleeve.
However, the competition has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks for other reasons.
Contestants were encouraged to skip the event as part of a grassroots Palestinian-led boycott to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Only Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country with strong ties to the Palestinians, declined to send a representative, citing the global COVID-19 situation as the reason.
The South African government, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, has withdrawn its support for the country’s representative because of her participation.
In a recent interview, Meza urged contestants to keep politics out of the pageant, stating that the event would bring women from various backgrounds together. “You forget about politics and religion when you’re in there,” she told The Associated Press at the time.
According to Sara Salansky of the Israeli Tourism Ministry, Israel was chosen to host the competition earlier this year because of its successful coronavirus vaccination program.
Late last month, the omicron variant’s arrival forced Israel to close its borders to foreign tourists, causing a last-minute hiccup in the competition.
Most of the Miss Universe contestants had already arrived in the country when the new regulations took effect. However, those who arrived afterward were granted special permission to enter, subject to a 72-hour quarantine period.
In the days leading up to Sunday’s competition, all contestants were tested for the coronavirus every 48 hours and were required to wear masks.
Despite all of the precautions, Clemence Botino, a contestant from France, tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after arriving in Israel. She was declared virus-free last week after ten days in quarantine and allowed to return to the competition.
Due to the pandemic, the pageant was postponed last year, and Meza was crowned in May for her brief reign.
Source: CTV News
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