London: The 2010 Miss World contest has been dragged into a diplomatic row between China and Norway with claims that Miss Norway, a bookies` favourite to win the crown, was cheated out of the title by the pageant`s Chinese hosts.
Relations between the two countries hit a low after Oslo-based Nobel committee awarded this year`s Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Alexandria Mills, an 18-year-old from the United States went on to win the coveted tiara in the glitzy ceremony held in Sanya, China. But her celebrations were tainted by claims that her biggest rival, Miss Norway, was sabotaged, reported Daily Mail online.
Insiders were shocked that stunning 23-year-old Norwegian university graduate Mariann Birkedal, didn`t even make the top five.
Observers speculate that the judges bowed to pressure from Beijing, which is involved in a bitter international spat with Norway.
Before the results were announced, Miss Norway was the shortest-priced favourite in Miss World history at 6/5, while Miss USA lagged behind at 7/1.
Kathrine Sorland, a Norwegian TV personality who came fourth in Miss World 2002, said she believed China`s fury at the Nobel Peace Prize committee had influenced the outcome. "They must have mixed politics and business. Without jumping to conclusions I would stress that Miss World competitions have always been political. And the relations between China and Norway are very strained at the moment," said Sorland.
The contest was held in Sanya on China`s tropical Hainan Island for the fifth time in the last eight years.