Israel shut its borders this week to all foreign passport holders — except the contestants in the Miss Universe pageant, to be held in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat later this month.
The border closure was the most aggressive measure taken by any country in response to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus being identified in South Africa.
But the global profile of the Miss Universe pageant assisted Israeli officials to decide that the show — with precautions — must go on.
The contest will include the traditional swimwear and evening gown competitions, and the final will be hosted live by Steve Harvey at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, December 14.
The Miss Universe contest, had an extra dash of drama this year after a Greek beauty pageant winner who quit the show over the treatment of Palestinians was accused of being an impostor by her own country’s selection committee.
Rafaela Plastira, 22, said in October that she had pulled out of the contest due to begin in Eilat on December 12 because she “could not go up on the stage, acting like nothing is happening when people are fighting for their lives [in Palestine]”.
However, Star GS Hellas, the organisation that chooses the Greek entrant, hit back this week, saying that Plastira, who won Miss World Greece in 2019, had not been their choice in the first place.
Greece is being represented by Sofia Arapogianni read more about this year entrant in the Miss Universe pageant.