02 novembro 2010

Controversy over Miss World voting

American Alexandria Mills (R) pictured with Miss Wales during events leading up to the contest. Photo / AP

American Alexandria Mills (R) pictured with Miss Wales during events leading up to the contest. Photo / AP

Rumours are surfacing that one aspect of last weekend's Miss World beauty contest in China may have been 'fixed'.

American teenager Alexandria Mills was crowned Miss World on Saturday.

Yet new reports are surfacing that suggest the 18-year-old's victory was primarily the result of ongoing diplomatic tensions between Norway and China following Liu Xiaobo's controversial Nobel Prize win, according to the UK Daily Mail.

The article speculates that judges at the ceremony, held in Sanya on China's tropical Hainan Island, may have bowed to pressure from Beijing.

China's government is said to be furious that the Oslo-based Nobel Prize committee chose to honour Liu, a jailed dissident, last month.

Liu is currently a political prisoner in China, and is a noted human rights activist who has called for the end of one-party rule and dedicated his Nobel win to the students who demonstrated in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

But can the host country really influence the results of a beauty pageant?

Well, the host country certainly has a lot of pull, as evidenced by the fact that Taiwan was not allowed to compete - since China does not recognise it as an independent country.

In addition, the Chinese audience showed their displeasure at Miss Japan, as a way of protesting Japan's claim to the Diaoyu Islands, a group of uninhabited rocks at the centre of a dispute between the two Asian nations over fishing and mineral rights.

Though she was considered an early favourite for the Miss World title, Miss Norway Mariann Birkedal wasn't even named into the top five contestants.

One of Birkedal's countrywomen raised speculation about a 'stitch-up'.

"They must have mixed politics and business," 2002 Miss World contestant and Norwegian personality Kathrine Sorland told the Daily Mail.

"Without jumping to conclusions, I would stress that Miss World competitions have always been political. And the relations between China and Norway are very strained at the moment."

As for Birkedal, the 23-year-old former Miss Universe has thus far distanced herself from all the speculation.

"I have been very careful with speculating about that myself ... it is kind of stupid to start thinking that if this or that had not occurred, I would perhaps have been Miss World 2010," she is quoted as saying. "I do believe everything happens out of a reason."


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