More than 100 international beauties were primping and preening in the final anxious moments before the Miss World pageant on Saturday, hosted by South Africa for an expected one billion-strong TV audience.
South African and Jamaican designers have created racks of dresses for the women, aged 17 to 25, who have spent a gruelling month in galas, rehearsals and even a safari on the tip of the African continent.
The event, which begins at 3pm GMT, has a special focus on song, dance and music, and includes a high-tech twist with an online competition where viewers can vote for their favourite beauty.
The winner of the online vote will go directly to the semifinal round, where Miss Barbados, Miss Mexico, Miss Russia and Miss Iceland have already secured spots by winning special competitions in the run-up to the big show.
An international jury will decide on the next Miss World, who will succeed China’s Zhang Zi Lin, who was crowned last year when the pageant was held in her home country.
South Africa hopes the pageant, broadcast in 180 countries to an estimated one billion viewers, will help overcome Johannesburg’s reputation for crime and promote the city as a tourist spot.
Julia Morley, head of the Miss World committee that organises the event, says the pageant also serves a charitable purpose.
”Over the years the crown that is worn by the winner is a symbol for fundraising. Miss World herself, this year, the winner from China, she’s raised over $30-million in her year in office,” Morley said.
”So perhaps from anything else it does a lot of good things for needy children and old people, which I think is important too.” – AFP