Miss World pageant put off after 38 contestants and staff contract Covid-19

Miss World Kenya 2021 winner Sharon Obara. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Miss World 2021 has been cancelled hours to the final runway parade and ceremony. This was after more than 20 contestants contracted Covid-19.

The finals were set to take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, yesterday with the reigning Miss World Kenya queen Sharon Obara set to represent Kenya at the pageant, the oldest running and most prestigious beauty pageant in the world.

By the time of going to press, Obara was not among those who had tested positive for Covid-19.

The event was much-anticipated following a one-year break forced by the pandemic.  

At the time of the cancellation, Obara had been tipped to emerge among the finalists after getting listed among the top 13 in the Miss World Top Model contest. Others in the list were Miss France, Venezuela, Cameroon, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cote D'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Poland, Nicaragua, Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

"After meeting with the virologists and medical experts hired to oversee the Miss World 2021 event and discussing with the Puerto Rico Health department, a decision has been made by the organisers of the event to postpone the globally broadcast finale at the Puerto Rico Coliseum Jose Miguel Agrelot to be held within the next 90 days," read the press report released by the Miss World Team.

"As of Thursday, 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. However, after additional positive cases were confirmed this morning after consulting with health officials and experts, the postponement decision was made."

The Kenyan delegation left the country two weeks ago. However, most of the finalists have been in Puerto Rico for more than a month taking part in the various hits that culminate to the finals.

Terry Mungai, Mr and Miss World Kenya franchise director and CEO of Asheys Beauty Ltd, has been in Coliseo De Puerto Rico leading the Miss World Kenya delegation.  

According to reports, 23 of the finalists representing countries from across the world had tested positive for Covid-19 leading to the cancellation of the crowing celebrations. Fifteen staff members are also said to have tested positive.

The finalists have since been put in isolation waiting health experts’ reports. They are expected to stay on until they are cleared by health officials and advisors; that before they are allowed to leave to their countries.

Miss World India, Miss World Malaysia and Miss World Indonesia were reportedly among the beauty queens affected.

Sharon was crowned in August at an event held at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi. She beat 15 other contestants to take over the reign from Maria Wavinya who had her reign extended after the Miss World pageant was cancelled last year thanks to Covid-19.

The Kenyan beauty queen, a special education professional, was set to battle for the world title, that had attracted 141 contestants with only 95 making it to the final contest. The winner, set to be crowned by the reigning queen Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica - who was crowned by Vanessa Ponce of Mexico in December 2019 in London – was expected to walk away with Sh10 million.

“One day left to the finals of @missworld and emotions are all over the place. The interactions with my sisters, facilitators and trainers from across the world with diverse backgrounds has led to us becoming one big, warm, happy and beautiful family,” Sharon had updated on her Instagram page on Wednesday.

“The class of 2021…It has been an amazing one month full of lifetime memories and adventures. I will miss us. I wish each and everyone of us all the best in our endeavors and may our purposes bring us closer together as they take us near and far away from home. Thank you @missworld for this lifetime opportunity.”