Following weeks of negative headlines in Fiji and around the world, Miss World CEO Julia Morley has stepped in and may travel to Fiji to help rectify the Miss Fiji World debacle.
"Sadly I am aware of many problems that have occurred. I plan to visit Fiji as soon as possible," says Morley.
On April 25, a then 15-year-old Torika Watters was crowned Miss World Fiji in the capital, Suva.
The next few days saw public comments on Mai Life Magazine's Facebook page criticising that the winner "was not native enough" to represent the country.
Local judges then criticised the lack of transparency and judging criteria.
What followed was an international media storm on the issue of racism in Fiji.
Two weeks after the pageant crowning, the event's director, Andhy Blake, informs Watters that she is too young to represent Fiji contrary.
This was contrary to what he told New Zealand media a week earlier when he said he had prior approval for her entry to Miss World.
As a consequence, Watters has stepped down as Fiji's 2012 representative to Miss World and may do so in 2013.
Morley has called on the people of Fiji to get behind Torika Watters' replacement; Koini Vakaloloma, to the Miss World Pageant in Ordos, Inner Mongolia in August.
Watters, who turned 16 this month, told Blake in an email yesterday she did not lie about her age.
"I did not at any time lie to you, you lied to me by telling me you had prior permission from Miss Morley for me to compete at the Miss World level, you told me this before the pageant in Suva," says Watters.
"Miss Fiji, who was too young to travel this year, Torika Watters, will be most welcome in 2013, thus giving Fiji and the Miss World Organisation time to work on a solution for the future for 2014," says Morely.
"We hope the young lady elected will be given support from everyone to 'Shine for Fiji' and she will be made most welcome.
"We hope the people of Fiji will get behind her to assist her with her preparation before leaving Fiji.
"We do look forward to receiving the representative of Fiji this year," says Morely, "she will enjoy our wonderful Festival of Beauty with 130 other countries".
It is a great education, realisation and will promote Fiji as it should be promoted."
While a date has not been confirmed for Morely's travel, she would visit Fiji and work together with a specially selected team including Andhy to find solutions for the future.
Morley says that she believes Blake has been overwhelmed by the situation.
"I truly believe Andhy Blake is under great stress.
"His heart is in the right place, but with all the negativity and anger toward him, has in my opinion overwhelmed him."
In an email sent yesterday, Permanent Secretary of Tourism Elizabeth Powell asked Blake and Watters to settle their issues.
"If you do indeed have the best interests of Fiji and Fijians at heart as you profess, you are both strongly advised to immediately cease this verbal combat by media, email and internet.
"No more emails or publicity. Do our country and people a favour and settle your disagreements directly with one another."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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