Israel Travel Ban Exempts Miss Universe Contestants

( With COVID cases surging and the new Omicron variant rearing its head, this weekend Israel closed its borders to all foreign travelers. With one significant exception – the foreign contestants competing in this year’s Miss Universe pageant.

The Miss Universe pageant will be held in Eilat, the resort city on the Red Sea this month. According to Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, participants in the Miss Universe pageant will be provided waivers to enter Israel. However, precautionary measures, including possibly undergoing routine PCR testing, will be put in place for the event.

Before Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Razvozov told reporters that the pageant, which will be broadcast in 174 countries, is “a very important event” that the city of Eilat “is very much in need of.” He argued that the pageant can’t be canceled as Israel has already committed to hosting it, adding that the Tourism Ministry knows how to manage the event.

The Miss Universe Pageant will be held on December 12. It is Israel’s first time hosting the beauty competition.

After blocking travel from seven southern African countries last week due to the Omicron variant, Israel announced this weekend that it was restricting all foreign travel into the country.

While governments are fearful of Omicron due to its numerous mutations, the South African doctor who first identified it has said those infected are presenting only “very mild symptoms.” Thus far, two cases of Omicron have been found in Israel. It has also shown up in Europe and Hong Kong.

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s hosting the Miss Universe pageant is bringing out the crazies who are demanding contestants boycott the event in protest over Israel’s “treatment” of Palestinians. Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane was asked to step down to protest Israel’s expansion into “occupied Palestinian territory.” Mswane is ignoring the demands, posting on Instagram that she fully plans to attend the event.

Last month, South Africa’s government released a huffy statement announcing it was withdrawing support for the Miss South Africa organization after the government failed to convince organizers to boycott the pageant in Israel.