Greek Model Who Said She Would Boycott Miss Universe in Israel Was Never Meant to Participate

According to a statement from the Greek organizers, Rafaela Plastira, who said she would not attend the event in Eilat over Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, was never her country's representative

Ofir Hovav
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The reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, poses for a photo in Jerusalem's Old City, ahead of the 2021 competition in Israel.
The reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, poses for a photo in Jerusalem's Old City, ahead of the 2021 competition in Israel.Credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
Ofir Hovav

A Greek model who announced she would boycott Miss Universe pageant in Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians, was never supposed to participate at all.

The body responsible for selecting the Greek representative for the international pageant said on Saturday that "Rafaela Plastira's statement that she will not participate in the Miss Universe pageant... is false."

According to a statement posted on Facebook by Giorgos Kouvaris, president of Star & Mr GS Hellas, Plastira "won the Star Hellas 2019 title, and this is the only title she has. She was never supposed to represent our country in the Miss Universe pageant."

He added that the Greek representative for the official Miss Universe pageant is Sofia Arapogianni. "I would like to inform all Greeks that GS Hellas is the only body that selects the participants in the Miss Universe 2021. Anything else is false and malicious," Kouvaris stressed.

Plastira, who claimed to be Greece's representative to the event in the Israeli resort town on Eilat, thanked fans earlier this week for the "love and support and understanding I get from all of you" over her false statement that she would be boycotting the competition.

"It was my childhood dream for me, but I really don't care," she wrote on Instagram. "I care about my people. Humanity above beauty pageants."

Last month, Plastira said she "can't go up that stage and act like nothing is happening when people are fighting for their lives out there. Palestine lives in my heart forever."

Miss South Africa will not boycott

Meanwhile, Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane released a statement on social media confirming that she intends to participate in the Miss Universe Pageant following pressure from the South African government to withdraw.

"It is with so much gratitude that I prepare to represent my beautiful South Africa at the 70th Miss Universe competition," Mswane shared on Saturday.  

Nelson Mandela's grandson with protesters outside the Miss South Africa headquarters in Johannesburg, calling for Miss SA to withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, earlier this month.Credit: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

She stated further that she views her participation in the pageant as a "unique opportunity" to shed light on issues affecting women as well as "contribute to a process of dialogue and peace."

The South African government has since withdrawn its support for the Miss South Africa pageant after it was unable to convince organizers to pull out of the Miss Universe pageant in Eilat.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Sports, Art and Culture announced it would no longer support the pageant because of Miss South Africa organizers' "intransigence and disregard" of advice against sending Miss SA Lalela Mswane to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

They added that "the government, as the legitimate representative of the country's citizens, cannot link itself with a clear conscience to the atrocities that Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians."

The reigning Miss Universe said last week the long-running beauty pageant shouldn't be politicized, amid pressure on contestants to drop out in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Correction: A previous version of this report falsely stated that Plastira was the Greek representative to Miss Universe 2021 in Eilat.

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