JAKARTA (AFP) – Miss World organisers said Tuesday it would be "impossible" to stage the final in Bali, vowing to petition Indonesian authorities to move the event back to Java after it was switched in the face of radical Muslim protests.
As hundreds more demonstrators took to the streets demanding the contest be scrapped, organisers said they hoped to persuade officials this week to reverse their decision to shift the whole show to the Hindu-majority resort island.
"I think people can appreciate how complex it would be to move everything to Bali," Nana Putra, executive director of organiser and broadcaster MNC Group, told AFP.
"Just getting the venue and all the accommodation is impossible with APEC here," she said, referring to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the start of October. The final takes place on September 28.
World leaders and thousands of officials and journalists will attend APEC, with many arriving days before it starts to take part in pre-summit meetings and activities.
Putra said organisers hoped to meet authorities some time this week, but did not say when.
However, she insisted organisers had no plans to cancel later rounds or the final and said they had a back-up venue in Indonesia if it was needed, although declined to give further details.
Government officials said Saturday the entire three-week contest would be held on Bali, where it opened Sunday after days of protests by radicals, who denounced the pageant as "pornographic" and "smut".
Some of the later rounds were originally due to take place in and around the capital Jakarta, including the final which was to be staged in a massive convention centre near the city in West Java province.
Putra also revealed that organisers had not been notified before the government decided to move the event.
"We were not part of the discussion -- we only heard about the decision after it was made, unfortunately," she said.
Hardliners kept the pressure up Tuesday, with some 700 members of hardline group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia protesting outside the West Java governor's office in Bandung city.
"We don't want Miss World here in West Java. But moving the contest is not enough -- it has no place in Indonesia," Asep Sudrajat, a Muslim cleric from the group, told AFP at the protest.
The decision to move the final round is the latest victory for Islamic fringe groups who are wielding increasing power and have succeeded in getting events they deem un-Islamic changed or cancelled in recent years.