China Accused of Helping Miss USA Win Miss World 2010 by Blocking Miss Norway

The Miss World 2010 contest was mired in controversy today amid claims that the hot favourite Miss Norway was frozen out because of a diplomatic feud.

Miss USA and Miss World 2010 Alexandria Mills (C), first runner-up Miss Botswana Emma Wareus (L) and runner-up Miss Venezuela Adriana Vasini celebrate at the end of the 60th Miss World pageant in Sanya, on the Chinese island of Hainan October 30, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee via Wisavej/Flickr

Did ugly politics clear the way for American teenager Alexandria Mills to take the Miss World 2010 title at the 60th anniversary beauty contest on Saturday?!

The Miss World 2010 contest was mired in controversy today amid claims that the hot favourite Miss Norway was frozen out because of a diplomatic feud between China and Norway, reports Daily Mail (UK).

The newspaper suggests judges may have been pressured by Beijing to give Miss Norway Mariann Birkedal low scores because it is still bitter over the Nobel Peace Prize being given to one of its political prisoners.

The Nobel committee, based in Oslo, recognized Liu Xiaobo for the annual award last month. A literature professor, Liu became an activist for human rights after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. He has been jailed several times since, most recently in 2009, and is presently serving 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Chinese officials were so angry about the Prize being given to Liu, they filed an official protest with Norway. Birkedal, a stunning 23-year-old former Miss Universe, was supposedly favored to take the crown before the competition.

However, Norwegian university graduate Mariann Birkedal failed to even make the top five in the Miss World pageant, despite having won the Top Model award from the organization several days earlier.

Miss Botswana Emma Wareus (R) smiles next to Miss United States as she is announced as the runner-up during the Miss World 2010 Beauty Pageant finals at the Beauty Crown Theatre in the southern Chinese resort town of Sanya on October 30, 2010. Miss United States, was crowned Miss World 2010, Botswana's Emma Wareus was second, and Venezuela's Adriana Vasini placed third. Photo: LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images via Wisavej/Flickr

Before the results were announced, Miss Norway was the shortest-priced favourite in Miss World history at 6/5, while Miss USA lagged behind at 7/1. Miss England Jessica Linley, a 21-year-old law student from Nottingham, was an even longer 50/1 shot.

Kathrine Sorland, a Norwegian TV personality who came fourth in Miss World 2002, said she believed China’s fury at the Nobel Peace Prize committee had influenced the outcome.

‘I was sure she would win,’ she said. ‘They must have mixed politics and business. Without jumping to conclusions I would stress that Miss World competitions have always been political. And the relations between China and Norway are very strained at the moment.’

“I have been very careful with speculating” about why I lost, the Norwegian beauty Mariann Birkedal said, according to the Daily Mail. “It is kind of stupid to start thinking that if this or that had not occurred I would perhaps have been Miss World 2010.”

The claims of political bickering interfering with Norway’s expected win at the beauty pageant is only the latest in a series of claims that the Nobel Prize controversy has soured relations between Norway and China.

Miss USA and Miss World 2010 Alexandria Mills (2nd L), first runner-up Miss Botswana Emma Wareus (L) and runner-up Miss Venezuela Adriana Vasini (3rd L) celebrate at the end of the 60th Miss World pageant in Sanya, on the Chinese island of Hainan October 30, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee via Wisavej/Flickr

This year the contest was held in Sanya on China’s tropical Hainan Island for the fifth time in the last eight years. Founded by the late Eric Morley as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951, Miss World is the oldest international beauty pageant. It is still run by his widow, Julia, and has a long history of scandals and controversies.

And this year was no exception. Even before the rumpus over Miss Norway’s early exit, the contest had to be moved from its original site in Vietnam because the location was an ecological heritage zone and local residents had allegedly been forcibly moved from their land.

With China as the host, Taiwan was unable to compete because Beijing does not recognise it as an independent country. And on Saturday night, the Chinese audience gave Miss Japan the silent treatment, apparently protesting Japan’s claim to the Diaoyu Islands, a group of uninhabited rocks coveted for fishing and mineral rights. [via Daily Mail (UK), Global Beauties and NY Daily News]

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