Miss World Netherlands has pulled out of the beauty pageant final in December to avoid having to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Dilay Willemstein, 21, made the surprise announcement Tuesday in an Instagram post saying she would “no longer represent the Netherlands … on the big Miss World stage.”
“This is partly due to the vaccination obligation,” she admitted, saying, “Personally I am not ready for this yet.”
“After I was crowned, we were told that if you want to go to Miss World you must be vaccinated,” she further explained to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD) of the Puerto Rico final scheduled for Dec. 16.
“So I thought about it carefully and considered taking the jab, but at a certain point I thought: I’m not ready for this at all. I don’t feel good about it,” she told the paper.
“This was simply the best choice for me,” she said. “I think I would have regretted more if I had done something that I actually don’t feel comfortable with.”
Miss World Netherlands CEO Katja Maes told the paper that they “did not ask about the vaccination status” of competitors because it was part of their private medical info, and “did not know in advance whether or not vaccinating would be a problem.”
The organization first heard through the Instagram post, Maes said.
“But we still love her, are proud of her and wish her all the best,” she insisted.
Willemstein is being replaced by runner-up Lizzy Dobbe.
“It is of course very sad for Dilay, but I am very honored that I can travel to Puerto Rico,” she told AD of the “super cool and unexpected” development.
“People have to make their own choice and we have to accept that from each other,” she said of Willemstein’s stance against the vaccine.