The journey leading to the Miss World pageant in India

Miss World 2024: Pageant’s long, colorful journey leading back to India

/ 06:12 PM March 08, 2024

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Miss World 2024: Pageant's long, colorful journey leading back to India

Reigning Miss World Karolina Bielawska (center) with Miss World Philippines Gwendolyne Fourniol (left) and MWO Pres. Julia Morley. Image: P. Adina

The Miss World pageant is currently at the homestretch of its 71st edition in India, a culmination of the long journey the competition has taken to get to where it is right now.

It was supposed to be held late 2022, and reports stated that London would have been the host destination for it. But the previous edition, its 70th, only concluded in March of the same year, after a brief interlude caused by a COVID-19 outbreak.

The 70th Miss World pageant, staged after a pandemic pause in 2020, commenced in Puerto Rico in November 2021. But it was interrupted by a string of infections among candidates, staff members, and officers. Everybody was sent home before the scheduled coronation show in December, and made to wait for the contest’s resumption.


The organization resumed the competition in March 2022, but only the Top 40 delegates were asked to return to the Caribbean territory to continue their journey to the crown. Karolina Bielawska from Poland captured the title, and has been reigning ever since.


The late 2022 staging of the succeeding competition where the Polish queen’s successor would have been chosen did not push through, and pageant followers were left in the dark as to when the next contest would be held.

With no contest held technically as its 2022 edition, the Miss World Organization (MWO) released a statement in February 2023 where its president Julia Morley was quoted as saying, “I am delighted to announce the 71st Miss World Festival will be held in the United Arab Emirates.” The contest was scheduled in May.

The contest did not happen. And in June 2023, MWO announced that India will instead host the 71st Miss World pageant, without citing the reason for moving to a different country.

“[MWO] is pleased to announce that India has been chosen as the host country for the highly anticipated 71st Miss World 2023 pageant. The decision to award India with this prestigious honor recognizes the nation’s rich cultural heritage, its commitment to promoting diversity, and its passion for empowering women,” the organizers posted on the Miss World Facebook page.

Miss World’s historical return to India

Back then, MWO said it was looking at staging the pageant in the last quarter of 2023. “(The) 71st Miss World 2023 will showcase the achievements of 130 national champions in their one month journey across ‘Incredible India’ as we present the 71st and most spectacular Miss World final ever,” Morley was quoted as saying.

India’s hosting of the pageant is historic in the sense that a country considered to be a beauty pageant powerhouse would host only for the second time one of the world’s biggest beauty tilts.


The first time India hosted Miss World was 28 years ago, in 1996 in Bangalore, in what was said to be a controversial event in the pageant’s history considering that at that time the Asian country was just opening up to the world, and many sectors including feminists and religious groups had opposed its staging, where some 800 protesters were arrested leading to the coronation night.

This year’s edition, however, is significant as India now showcased a new facade to the international stage — a country rich in culture, where women are celebrated, and has in fact, produced numerous beauty queens in several international competitions.

Something new

Gwendolyne Fourniol, the Philippines’ representative in the international competition, flew to London with her national director Arnold Vegafria to visit Morley in June in anticipation of the contest in India.

In September, MWO announced that the 71st Miss World Festival will be held at Yashobhoomi, Dwarka, in Delhi, and the final competition was scheduled on Dec. 16. But that also did not push through because of the elections in India.

In January, MWO announced new details for the 71st Miss World Festival, and said the winner will be crowned at the final event to be held in March. Fourniol left for the South Asian country in February.

Bielawska will finally crown her successor at the culmination of the final show at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai on March 9, where 112 aspirants from different countries and territories will compete for the title she is currently holding.

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Megan Young became the first, and so far only, winner from the Philippines in the contest’s 63rd edition held in India. She will return as host of the competition this year for the seventh time.

TAGS: Gwendolyne Fourniol, Karolina Bielawska, Miss World

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