Miss World contestants will not wear bikinis when they vie for the pageant's crown in Indonesia this September to avoid causing offence in the world's most populous Muslim country.
Miss World organisers said the 137 women in the competition will instead wear one-piece swimwear, some of which will also have sarongs over the top. "This is perfectly reasonable in a country that prefers one-piece swimwear," London-based Miss World Organisation Chairwoman Julia Morley told Reuters on Thursday.
Morley denied suggestions the decision to ditch bikinis was made after local complaints about the contest. However, reports in Indonesian newspapers said a number of conservative groups had taken issue with the staging of the contest, highlighting bikinis as a key objection.
The Jakarta Post reported on Monday that deputy tourism minister, Sapta Nirwandar, said the government had also asked Miss World to follow Indonesian tradition. "Some people in Indonesia still consider it taboo for women to wear bikinis and outfits that expose body parts," the paper quoted Nirwandar as saying on its website.
Over the past year other entertainment events have been disrupted in Indonesia due to threats by Muslim organisations. Pop star Lady Gaga was forced last year to pull out of a concert after a hardline Muslim group threatened to disrupt her show, saying her performances were immoral.
Last month veteran US rock band Aerosmith cancelled a concert in Jakarta citing security concerns. The 63rd Miss World pageant will be held on Sept. 28 in Jakarta, the capital of a country where nearly 90 percent of its 240 million people consider themselves to be Muslims.
The Miss World contest dates back to 1951 and during its first decade the outfits of contestants raised eyebrows and grabbed headlines while building a growing audience for its televised show.