ISRAEL – Miss Universe 2021 was the 70th Miss Universe pageant, held on December 12, 2021, at Universe Dome in Eilat, Israel. Andrea Meza of Mexico crowned Harnaaz Sandhu of India as her successor at the end of the event. This is India’s first victory after 21 years, and it’s third in history.
The competition featured the return of Steve Harvey as host and Fox as the official broadcaster of the show after being absent for the previous edition.
In January 2021, it was reported that the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) was in talks to host the 2021 edition of the competition in Costa Rica. The negotiations were later confirmed by Gustavo Segura, serving as the Minister of Tourism in the government of Costa Rica.
In May 2021, during an interview with People en Español, Andrea Meza stated that the 2021 edition of the competition would be held at the end of the year and acknowledged the fact that her reign would be one of the shortest in the history of the pageant.
On July 20, 2021, the MUO confirmed that the competition would be held in Eilat, Israel in December 2021. On October 27, the competition was confirmed to be held on December 12 at Universe Dome, a custom-built and temporary arena imported to Eilat from Portugal.
Well-known pop singer Harel Skaat — whose husband is Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll — also performed at the show, singing a Hebrew, Arabic and English-language cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with Valerie Hamaty, a Christian Arab Israeli singer who became famous on this year’s season of Israel’s “Rising Star,” and religious Jewish Israeli performer Narkis.
Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai has recently revealed that she turned down an offer to perform at the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat. In a statement shared by Channel 13, the singer-songwriter said that despite not accepting the offer, she was “flattered by the offer to perform at the ceremony.”
“Even though I see a lot of beauty in it [the pageant], I still cannot see myself standing on a stage where women are judged by appearance, body size, height, and weight,” she explained as to why she declined the opportunity. “Although updates have been made in accordance with the times, I still think beauty pageants are a harsh concept. They are outdated and diminishing. It’s time to move on.”
TV Presenter and radio broadcaster Judy Shalom Nir Mozes criticized Barzili’s statement, calling her hypocritical.
“When we first meet someone, our first impression is their appearance. This is just hypocrisy…” she responded, speaking to radio 103FM. “This is a competition that is good for the Israeli economy. We are constantly making headlines in the world for negative reasons, and here is a good reason to show our other side to the world,” she added, criticizing her for what she perceived to be her unwillingness to highlight Israel’s good to the world.
“We also choose our leaders by appearance,” she added. “To say that she won’t come because women are judged according to their appearances is hypocrisy.