Puteri Indonesia Foundation (YPI), the organization that oversees the Puteri Indonesia (Miss Indonesia) pageant, has announced that Indonesia will not send a representative to the upcoming Miss Universe 2021 grand finale, which will be held in Israel, next month.
In an announcement published to Puteri Indonesia’s official Instagram page yesterday, the foundation cited inadequate preparation time for the competition and pandemic travel restrictions as reasons for Indonesia’s absence.
“Tight preparation time and local COVID-19 restrictions led to our decision of not sending our Indonesian representative for this year’s competition,” the statement reads, which included well-wishes for the 70th edition of Miss Universe pageant in Eilat.
YPI itself is currently selecting representatives from a number of Indonesian provinces to compete at Puteri Indonesia 2022, which is slated to be held early next year.
“We look forward to participating again in next year’s edition of the Miss Universe pageant.”
It might be worth noting that Indonesia had sent a representative to Miss Universe 2020, Ayu Maulida Putri, when the competition was held in Florida earlier this year in May after it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
YPI may have used COVID-19 restrictions as an excuse for this upcoming absence at the world’s biggest pageant event, but it’s hard to dismiss the possible political motivation behind the decision. For one thing, Indonesia has never had diplomatic ties with Israel, owing to the Southeast Asian nation’s strong Islamic identity and its general scorn of Israel due to its brutal occupation of Palestinian land.
In 2018, thousands of protesters flooded Central Jakarta denouncing American President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, which was also part of his administration’s Middle East peace plan.
Back in December of last year, the Indonesian government quickly denied reports coming out from abroad that the country was ready to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, after the Middle Eastern state recently announced bilateral relations with its traditional opponents including UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco as part of a US-brokered Middle East peace plan.
Aside from Indonesia, countries that will be absent from this year’s Miss Universe grand finale are Malaysia, Barbados, Belize, Russia, and Uruguay, citing high COVID-19 cases or travel restrictions in their respective countries.