The postponement of Miss World 2021 finals night (which was moved from December 16, 2021 to March 16, 2022) is a strong warning to the pageantry world. Any attempts to conduct a pageant in a similar fashion during the pre-pandemic era should be carried out with abundance of caution. In fact, it should be modified and condensed in the interest of the candidates and every stakeholder. The pandemic is far from over and new guidelines must be drawn so pageants can operate under the new normal.
Many pageant observers criticized Miss Universe 2021 for having scant pre-pageant activities and poor media exposure. Pageant fans has castigated Miss Earth 2021 for being a “Miss Zoom pageant” in reference to its finals night being held online. Miss International meanwhile was cancelled for two years in a row. Miss World 2021 however went ahead with its usual challenge events and lengthy schedule. Unfortunately, hours before the scheduled finals night, 15 staff and 23 contestants were tested positive of COVID-19.
Let’s be clear: this is not about blaming the Miss World organization. They followed every protocol applicable in Puerto Rico but in the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases shot up in the island to a staggering 4, 600%! Some blamed it to the Bad Bunny concert held in San Juan in December 10, 2021 where concertgoers went to a tightly packed venue with many revelers seen not wearing masks. By December 13, cases began to spike. Puerto Rico simply became lax with its health protocols after 75% of its population received two doses of vaccine and it is now paying a costly price.
The pageantry world should accept the reality that things are not the same as it was prior 2020. Beauty pageants should limit the crowds, encourage wearing of masks and observe social distancing even if the local authorities don’t require them. Every pageant fan wants an exciting pageant with a fabulous finals night but while this virus is still spreading, it is prudent to prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved.