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China prepares to crown new Miss World

China's first ever staging of the Miss World competition is set to climax later Saturday .

india Updated: Dec 06, 2003 20:06 IST
AFP
AFP
PTI

China's first ever staging of the Miss World competition is set to climax later Saturday when 106 nervous young women find out which one of them will win the coveted crown.

"The girls are ready," said Paul Ridley, spokesman for Miss World.

"The full dress rehearsal Friday night ran like clockwork and there is excitment in the air
because we've been working hard to deliver a great show," Ridley said.

At 9:00 pm (1300 GMT) contestants will take the stage at the newly built 12-million-dollar Beauty Crown Theatre in Sanya, a small tropical city in southern China's Hainan province.

The winner will take over from the reigning Miss World from Turkey, Azra Akin, earn 100,000 US dollars in prize money, and go on to perform a variety of duties largely focused on fundraising for disadvantaged children.

In the run-up to Miss World, the contestants have taken part in four other competitions, with the winners fast-tracked to the final 20. Out of those, five finalists will be selected before the new Miss World and two runner-ups are announced.

Miss Ireland, Rosanna Davison, daughter of "Lady in Red" singer Chris de Burgh, is a favourite along with Miss Canada, Miss India, Miss China, Miss Norway and Miss Georgia.

Miss Georgia, Irina Onashvili, won the talent contest; Miss Bolivia, Helen Aponte Saucedo, was voted most personable; Miss Ireland, Rosanna Davison, was sexiest in a swimsuit; and Miss Canada was most athletic.

Organisers will also announce Saturday the winner of the popular vote chosen on the Internet.

During the show, finalists will be selected for their poise, intelligence, artistic talents and aesthetic merits, with Hollywood action film star Jackie Chan and Candace Bushnell, writer of the US comedy hit "Sex and the City", among a panel of judges.

After four weeks of preparations in China, which included tours of the cities of Xian, Shanghai and Beijing, the contestants ran through their full-dress rehearsal in front of a full house at the 4,000 seat theatre.

"It was great fun to do it in front of so many people and I look forward to doing it all over again tonight," said Miss Scotland, Nicola Joanne Jolly.

This year's final will be aired live in China on the Hong Kong-based cable television network Phoenix TV and Hainan's state-run TV channel.

But China Central Television, the country's main government-directed channel, will not be broadcasting the event, which means most of the country's 400 million TV-owning households will not see the program.

Miss World Organisers say the program will nonetheless reach a worldwide audience of around two billion people, putting it near the ranks of the Olympics' opening ceremony and football's World Cup.

This year China officially lifted a 54-year ban on beauty pageants although contests masquerading as modelling competitions and "cultural" events have gone on for more than 10 years.

In Sanya, officials hope that the millions spent on hosting rights and the sprucing up of the resort town of 500,000 people, will yield greater tourism and investment dollars.

First Published: Dec 06, 2003 14:25 IST