Beauty queens from around the world have started arriving in El Salvador where the 72nd Miss Universe is being held.
The final coronation is set to take place next Saturday, where reigning Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel from the US will crown her successor from a pool of 86 women.
Before the glitzy final show, the beauty queens will compete in a preliminary round next Wednesday, where they will parade in their evening gowns and swimsuits in front of the judges. This crucial round determines their scores and who makes it to the semi-final, which will be announced on the coronation night.
The women will then go into a national costume round the next day, with the winner also being announced during the final show.
Several contestants have been sharing photos of their first few days in San Salvador, filled with fittings and registrations, including Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Dee. In an Instagram post on Monday, the Filipina beauty queen is seen posing with Miss Universe India Shweta Sharda, as well as representatives from Nepal and France.
For the first time in the pageant's decades-long history, mothers and married women have been allowed to join. Maria Camila Avella Montanez of Colombia and Michelle Cohn of Guatemala are the first Miss Universe contestants in this category.
While the beauty queens are waiting for the preliminary rounds, online voting is open, which gives fans the chance to secure a semi-final spot for their favourite contestant. The woman with the highest number of fan votes will automatically qualify in the semi-final during coronation night.
Voice for change
Meanwhile, another online voting competition is being held, called Voice for Change. In this new category, the contestants share their personal advocacies through a three-minute video.
As of writing, Philippine representative Dee has the most votes. In her video, she talks about raising awareness around challenges for people on the autism spectrum, describing it as an issue that is “very close to my heart”.
“I am a sister of two incredible siblings who are on the autism spectrum,” she says, detailing her years of work with the Autism Society Philippines.
Miss Universe Ukraine Angelina Usanova has also garnered a significant number of votes so far. In her entry, she talks about the toll of war and military conflict on people's mental health.
Three winners will be chosen in this category based on the results of the online votes.