“Israel will be the theme of the show,” she said in a recent phone interview from Tel Aviv. While plans for the 70th Miss Universe pageant are not yet final, she said the contestants would tour the country and she hoped clips of their visit to such locations as the Dead Sea and Jerusalem would be incorporated into the broadcast. “Israel is a small country but so diverse.”
The pageant taking place in Israel will not be the event’s only first, she said. Another new development is that there will be a contestant from the United Arab Emirates for the first time, as well as one from Morocco for the first time in decades. The final list of contestants will be released in November, Shugart said.
Due to the pandemic, the competition has changed in a number of other ways. While normally, a pageant is held annually, the 69th competition, which was set to be held in May 2020, was postponed for a year. Andrea Meza of Mexico, the reigning Miss Universe, will only have served about seven months when the competition is held in December, which is an unusual situation. But Shugart said Meza understood that holding a new pageant this December is a “first step into the new normal” and that she did not mind.
One of the reasons Israel was chosen was due to its health policy in combating the coronavirus, notably its success with the vaccination campaign. “We decided if we were going to hold the competition outside of the US, it would be in a country that has handled the virus well,” she said.