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After 10 days, Miss Universe contender who contracted COVID cleared to compete

Miss France Clemence Botino allowed to take part in the contest in Eilat this weekend after being pronounced virus-free

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Clémence Botino, Miss Universe 2021 contestant from France. (Miss Universe)
Clémence Botino, Miss Universe 2021 contestant from France. (Miss Universe)

Clemence Botino, the contestant representing France at this year’s Miss Universe competition in Eilat, has been cleared to leave quarantine and join the competition 10 days after she tested positive for COVID following her arrival in Israel.

Botino told her followers on Instagram that she was allowed to finally leave her hotel room on Wednesday. She flew to Eilat to join her fellow contestants ahead of the Miss Universe competition, which will take place in the early hours of Monday morning.

Botino, who is fully vaccinated and tested negative before departing France, tested positive for COVID-19 upon landing in Israel in late November. The beauty queen wrote on Instagram that she was “crying all day” after receiving the news, but vowed to stay upbeat. “Even if it is hard I won’t give up,” she wrote. “Life has brought me to Israel and everything is ready. Every situation [is] supposed to make us stronger.”

She was forced to hole up in a hotel room in Jerusalem for 10 days before she received clearance to leave and join her fellow competitors. “Somebody is out of quarantine,” she posted on Wednesday from the airport in Tel Aviv heading to Eilat. “Happy to catch the sun again,” she added.

Organizers for the competition confirmed to The Times of Israel that Botino “has now been released from isolation, and will be able to compete.”

Botino was welcomed to Eilat by her roommate, Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, who wrote on Instgram: “Clemence Botino is here, my heart is happy!”

A projected vision of the Miss Universe stage for the competition slated to be held in Eilat on December 12, 2021. (Courtesy)

Miss Universe 2021 will be held in Eilat with contestants from close to 80 nations — and broadcast live to more than 600 million viewers in 172 countries via the Fox network. TV host Steve Harvey will oversee the star-studded production, which will kick off live at 2 a.m. in Israel — 7 p.m. in New York.

The specially built venue at the port of Eilat — imported from Portugal — is 16.5 meters tall and holds approximately 5,000 seats.

“I know that the city of Eilat will provide a great space for our contestants to learn and grow together,” said Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization.

While the decision to host the 70th edition of the Miss Universe pageant in Israel has garnered some political controversy — including the decision of South Africa to pull backing from its contestant — the competition has largely been overshadowed by the coronavirus.

While Israel opened its doors to fully vaccinated tourists on November 1, it shut them once again less than a month later over fears of the new Omicron variant. Most of the contestants had already arrived in Israel, but those who had not were given special dispensation to fly into the country, angering many immigrants to Israel whose families were blocked from entering.

Mswane arrived from South Africa after Israel instituted a ban on Israelis traveling to most of Africa and on all foreigners arriving from the areas thought to be the hub of the new Omicron variant.

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