Miss Universe pageant organisers announced on Monday that a contestant tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Israel, which is planning to host the pageant despite closing its borders due to a newly discovered Covid variant.
They did not identify the contestant, and it was unknown whether she was infected with the Omicron strain, which has caused widespread concern and was recently discovered in a tourist returning to Israel.
Majority of the 80 contestants have arrived in Israel, according to the Miss Universe Organization, and the event will take place as planned on December 12 in the southern city of Eilat, with strict coronavirus safeguards. The contestants will compete in national costumes, evening gowns and swimsuits, as well as a series of interviews.
After at least one case was identified in a vaccinated traveller returning from Malawi, Israel closed its borders to all foreign tourists over the weekend, one of the several measures taken to prevent the spread of the new type. Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, but it has subsequently spread to several European countries, as well as Hong Kong and Australia.
The candidate tested positive upon arriving in Israel, according to the organisers, and was transported to a government-run isolation hotel. They claimed that she had been completely vaccinated and tested before leaving.
The pageant was intended to assist Israel to attract tourists and present an image of the country as a safe location during the pandemic.
The pageant was already in the spotlight because to its location in Israel, which has been targeted for boycotts due to its treatment of Palestinians. Malaysia has announced that it will not send a candidate, citing COVID. In addition, the government of South Africa said that it was withdrawing its support for the country’s delegate.
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month in Jerusalem, the core of the conflict, Andrea Meza, the reigning Miss Universe, said that the competition shouldn’t be politicised.