Miss World postponed hours before finale amid Covid-19 outbreak

The content originally appeared on: CNN

This year’s Miss World competition, scheduled to take place Thursday in Puerto Rico, has been postponed after multiple people linked to the event — including 23 of the 97 contestants — tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement released hours before the pageant was due to start, organizers said they were rescheduling the televised finale, citing the “health and safety interest of contestants, staff, crew and general public.”

Malaysia’s representatives confirmed that their contestant, Lavanya Sivaji, was among those to test positive. In a statement posted to social media Thursday, the Miss World Malaysia organization said that Sivaji was in isolation but “clinically well.”

Miss World Indonesia, Pricilia Carla Yules, meanwhile appeared to confirm reports that she had tested positive, writing on Instagram stories that she is “currently in recovery” and “feeling much better physically and mentally.”

At a Puerto Rico Health Department press conference Thursday, epidemiologist Melissa Marz?n told reporters there had been 38 positive cases associated with Miss World: 15 staff and 23 contestants. She confirmed that pageant organizers, not the island’s authorities, made the decision to postpone.

The Miss World Organization said that the finale will be rearranged and held within the next 90 days.

Dancers take to the stage during the opening sequence of the Miss World Final 2019 at the Excel arena in London on December 14, 2019. Credit: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

“As of (Wednesday), additional safety measures were implemented in the best interest of the contestants, production team and spectators, understanding the event increased risks on the stage and in the dressing room,” read a statement posted to the official Miss World social media channels. “However, after additional positive cases were confirmed this morning (and) after consulting with health officials and experts, the postponement decision was made.

“The next step according to the medical experts is immediate quarantine, pending observation and further testing according to best practices in situations like this. Once and only when contestants and staff are cleared by health officials and advisers, will contestants and related staff return to their home countries.”

Thursday’s finale would have marked the culmination of weeks of Miss World events in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan. In one of several preliminary competitions, Ivory Coast’s Olivia Yac? was named winner of the pageant’s Top Model portion. This week, Mongolian representative Burte-Ujin Anu won the Miss World Talent content and Mexico’s Karolina Vidales was named Miss World Sports.

Miss World 2021, the 70th edition of the annual event, was due to be hosted by English singer and TV personality Peter Andre, Puerto Rican model Stephanie Del Valle and Mexican singer and actor Fernando Allende. Last year’s pageant was canceled due to pandemic, meaning that 2019’s winner, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh, remains the reigning titleholder.

The last Miss World contest, held in London in 2019, saw Miss Jamaica Toni-Ann Singh crowned winner. Credit: Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

In a statement, CEO of Miss World Ltd., Julia Morley, said: “We are very much looking forward to the return of our contestants, (who we have grown to know and love), to compete for the Miss World crown.”

Top image caption: Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday, May 6, 2021.