Miss Universe 2020: "Keep Politics Out of the Competition"

Several countries have withdrew in the competition, while some are hesitant.

Înainte of the 61st edition of the Miss Universe pageant, which will take place in Israel's resort of Eilat on December 12, the reigning Miss Universe Andrea Meza has urged participants to keep politics out of the long-running beauty competition.

On some of the participants competing in the pageant, which is celebrating its 70th year this year, there has been an increasing amount of pressure for them to withdraw in solidarity with Palestinians.

Before embarking on a tour of Jerusalem's Old City with the Associated Press, Meza, who was crowned Miss Mexico in 2017, told the news agency: "Everyone with different beliefs, with different backgrounds, with different cultures, they all come together and when you are in there, you forget about politics, about your religion." Meza was crowned Miss Mexico in 2017. "It's simply a matter of accepting other ladies."

Meza's comments came in the wake of Miss Greece Rafaela Plastira's departure from the competition in October.

"I will not be attending Miss Universe this year," said the contestant. The reason for this is due to the nature of the country. I have absolutely no ill will against the country at all. Despite the fact that I like all countries throughout the world, my heart goes out to all of the people fighting for their life in Israel and [Palestine]. Platira shared her thoughts on Instagram, saying, "I can't walk up on that platform and act like nothing is happening while people are fighting for [their] lives out there."

She has been replaced. Katerina Kouvoutsaki was designated as the first representative, but the tournament's organizers revealed last week that she would be replaced due to "health issues," and that the second-place finisher Sofia Arapogianni would take her place in the event in Israel.

"As of today, Sofia Arapogianni has been named the new Miss Universe Greece 2021. As a result of her health issues, Katerina Kouvoutsaki will be unable to represent our nation in the crown of the universe," Star GS Hellas wrote on Instagram. "Our beauty queen Katerina Kouvoutsaki will not be able to represent our country in the crown of the universe."

Miss Greece's resignation follows the cancellation of the Miss Malaysia pageant by the organizers, who cited Covid-19 limitations as the basis for their decision not to participate.

Because to the increasing Covid-19 crisis, which has led in limited international and domestic travel, the Miss Universe Organization has been unable to host its local Miss Universe 2021 contest, according to a statement released by the organization. Consequently, we have refused the offer to participate in this year's pageant." Our warmest wishes are sent to all delegates competing at the international competition, with the hope that they will be able to return in the near future."

Meanwhile, the Miss South Africa beauty pageant is embroiled in controversy when the South African government withdrew its sponsorship for the event due to the ambitions of local organizers to participate in the competition.

The African National Congress, the country's ruling party, has backed demands for Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, to skip Miss Universe since the competition will being hosted in Israel, and has warned that "the harm to her image would much outweigh any glamour that may result."

Mswane, a 24-year-old law graduate who was crowned Miss South Africa last month, has been mum on whether she would compete in the Miss World competition.

"The power and honor of this crown transcends beyond simple beauty," she said on her official Facebook page after being crowned. "With this crown, I not only have the opportunity to represent South Africa on a worldwide stage, but I also have the responsibility of bringing hope, empowerment, duty, and service to my dear nation," says the princess.

It is an honor and a privilege for me to wear this crown because it allows me to carry the ambitions and aspirations of so many South Africans, and it is an honor and a privilege that I never take for granted." As your Miss South Africa 2021, I am honored to represent you with a willing heart, an open mind, and a strong desire to learn and improve."

Historically, South Africa has had a strong showing in the Miss Universe pageant in recent years, with Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi taking home the title in 2019 and Demi-Leigh Peters (now Tebow) taking home the title the year before that.

Morocco and the United Arab Emirates are also likely to send representatives to the contest this year, despite the fact that a scheduled crowning for Miss Universe UAE was scrapped earlier this month "due to scheduling restrictions." More than 15,000 aspirants applied for the historic maiden event, which was accessible to women of all nationalities who had resided in the United Arab Emirates for at least three years at the time of application.

According to Paula M Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, Israel has been shortlisted as a host country "because of its rich history, gorgeous scenery, multiplicity of cultures, and attractiveness as a worldwide tourism destination."

Meza walked around the mainly deserted cobblestoned lanes of Old City last week, wearing a flowing, full-length dress and flat sandals, pausing to peer inside shops while a media throng trailed after her. Due to the outbreak of the epidemic, vendors were unaccustomed to seeing large crowds and wondered aloud why Meza was attracting so much attention.

Meza, a software engineer, described herself as "simply a girl" from a tiny town in Mexico, noting that she was not a "beautiful and faultless" beauty queen in the traditional sense. She stated that she had put in a lot of effort to win Miss Universe and that the competition wasn't just about displaying women in bikinis, but also about proving their intellectual abilities.

Upon being asked if she had a solution to the problem between Israel and the Palestinians, she said that she did not believe in violence and that dialogue was the most important factor.

"People have to make concessions, and I sincerely hope that we can reach an agreement via dialogue and discussion," she added.

Krees De Guia

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