Despite not being staged annually like other pageants, the Mister World pageant continues to hold on to its status as the premiere international male pageant. Its emphasis on athleticism and camaraderie while still maintaining elements of glamour makes this pageant a safe haven for the contestants who compete in it and minimizes the taint of objectification sleaze that tend to mar other male pageants. With this format, this pageant attracted 74 countries back in 2010–a record for any male pageant thus far.
However in subsequent occasions since then, a combination of various factors prevented this pageant from exceeding, or coming close to equalling, that record high. First, there is still general public resistance in various countries that national male pageants are not being held regularly. Or, former franchises shut down and there were no franchises that were willing to take the Mister World mantle. Then, usual stalwarts like Sanya, China simply are not in the mood to stage an international male pageant. Compound the fact that the only country willing to stage the pageant, England, has these relatively inflexible visa policies that countries willing to send contestants are unable to do so because of issues securing them.
On top of all these factors, there are still some stalwart powerhouse regular countries that are missing in this year’s Mister World roster. For starters, there was a huge outcry in social media when it was announced that the reigning Mister Venezuela (Renato Barabino) will not be competing in this pageant. With the ongoing dire economic crisis in that nation, it might be understandable, though one might wonder how another organization was able to field a representative to a lesser pageant like the recently concluded Men Universe Model (and he ended up 1st runner-up)? Besides cheaper airfare to the Dominican Republic due to proximity, was this country a bit more tolerant in terms of accepting Venezuelan currency?
What is not being publicized is that there is another major male pageant powerhouse that is also missing, and it arguably had a better track record: Lebanon. This country had five consecutive placements between 2000 to 2012, with its best showing a 1st runner-up finish in 2003. Conceivably, they could’ve fielded the reigning titleholder, Farid Matar, who was a Top 15 semifinalist in last year’s Mister International. But what gives? It turns out, the scheduling of this pageant coincides with the staging of the next Mister Lebanon pageant, and it seems Farid is contractually obligate to be present at the proceedings, even if the coronation is still next month. And it seems they couldn’t find anyone available among his runners-up either (and perhaps the issue of securing a U.K. visa within a short period).
It makes me think about the awesomeness of the roster of last year’s Mister International, how they could’ve also filled up this year’s roster. Conceivably, Top 10 finalist Australia (Chris Nayna) and 4th runner-up Czech Republic (Jakub Kraus) would be in high contention securing slots in the Top Ten, especially since the athletic challenges are very much in the wheelhouse of these outgoing, well-spoken fitness trainers. I also think of non-finalists like Netherlands (Cas Winters) and Singapore (Edwin Aw) would represent their countries very well, even if it would not be expected for them to place.
On top of the coulda-woulda-shoulda-beens like the ones above, there were three countries that initially confirmed their participation but backed out and were removed from the roster on the day the contestants were expected to arrive.
Dominican Republic initially announced it was fielding model Casey Sanchez but then a week before July 8, his name was removed from the roster and name became vacant, and no announced representative was confirmed hence.
Also making initial confirmations were Cameroon (Jean Daniel Siewe) and Haiti (Mackendy Asmath), but they were both taken out on 08 July for unknown reasons. I was fascinated about Cameroon especially with his modeling pictures, as he evokes an androgynous vibe–could he be like Vietnam 2012 and be the winner of the Style award? His image also made me think of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actor Tituss Burgess and his viral smash “Peeno Noir”. His potential high-fashion fabulousness will be missed.
There were two other countries which also confirmed but ultimately did not make it presumably because of visa issues–they even submitted contestant itnroduction videos on the Mister World YouTube channel. Both of them are part of the Green Team and I’ll discuss about them further when I get to that team.
Whatever the case, the 45 contestants that actually made it to Southport are making this year’s edition an exciting and unpredictable pageant to follow. As is customary, I’ll discuss them according to their team affiliations. Hope you the reader would be with me in this journey…