India’s actress Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe 2021 during the 70th Miss Universe pageant, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Eilat, Israel, hosted by U.S. TV personality Steve Harvey. The previously reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, crowned her successor. She topped some 80 contestants. Only Malaysia did not send a representative, citing the global COVID-19 situation. Sara Salansky, an official with the Israeli Tourism Ministry, said the country was selected to host the contest earlier this year because of Israel’s successful coronavirus vaccination program. All contestants were tested for the coronavirus every 48 hours and required to obey strict mask requirements.The required steps on the pageant included traditional displays of national costumes, swimwear and a series of interview questions to test contestants’ public speaking skills. Harnaaz was asked to voice her opinion on climate change and what she would tell those people who think that the issue is a hoax. „I feel that this is the time to take action and talk less because every action of ours can either kill or save nature. Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair, and this is what I would like to convince you today,” she answered.
Her final statement at the pageant was about the pressures that young people face across societies today. Sandhu said she was feeling “overwhelmed because it’s been 21 years since India got Miss Universe crown and it’s happening right now.” Amid all the safeguards, France’s contestant, Clemence Botino, tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after arriving in Israel. After 10 days in quarantine, she was declared virus free last week and allowed to rejoin the competition.