There will be no Miss Universe pageant this year, with the 2022 winner likely to be crowned in the first half of next year, sources have confirmed to The National. An official announcement is set to be made soon.
While no reason has been given for the postponement, it is probable that two Miss Universe pageants will be held next year, with the 2023 winner being crowned later in the year.
An internal memo sent to national directors and seen by Puerto Rican daily El Vocero de Puerto Rico simply reads: "We are going to hold the Miss Universe event in the first quarter of 2023, we will announce it soon."
The news effectively extends the reign of Harnaaz Sandhu from India, who was crowned Miss Universe 2021 in December last year. But the longest-reigning Miss Universe is Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, who won the tile in 2019.
Tunzi reigned for 525 days after the 2020 pageant was cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. She crowned her successor Andrea Meza from Mexico in May 2021, in turn making Meza's the shortest reign in history. Meza passed on her crown to Sandhu at a pageant in Israel in December last year after 211 days.
More than 50 countries, from the UK to Ukraine and Guatemala to Ghana, have named their representatives for the 71st Miss Universe, the location for which is yet to revealed. In the region, Miss Universe Bahrain will be named on September 11, according to organisers.
Last week, architect and model Divita Rai was crowned as Miss Universe India, better known as Miss Diva, with Sandhu on hand to name her Indian successor.
Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of Miss Universe 2022 contestants who have already been crowned, from India to Lebanon
Early in August, the Miss Universe Organisation made history by introducing a major rule change for eligibility. Starting with the 72nd pageant, the annual competition will accept married women and mothers.
In an internal memo seen by The National, the organisation says it has always strived to evolve with the times and the latest decision was the natural next step.
"We all believe that women should have agency over their lives and that a human's personal decisions should not be a barrier to their success," the memo said.
Previously, only single women aged between 18 and 28, who have never been married or had children, were allowed to apply.
The contest has been changing with the times. Last year, Miss Universe Bahrain made history by choosing to walk the swimsuit round in fully-covered sportswear.
The Miss Universe Organisation, which operates out of New York, also owns the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, besides the global Miss Universe pageant.