MANILA -- Former "Pinoy Big Brother" housemate Vickie Rushton is considered one of the frontrunners of Binibining Pilipinas, which sends representatives to Miss International and other pageants.
But she seems to be facing a huge roadblock to the crown with the recent announcement of Miss International director Stephen Diaz.
In a livestream by the pageant website Missosology over the weekend, Diaz affirmed the age limit of 18 to 28 years old for their pageant.
He said a candidate has to "be 18 years old by the time she arrives in the host country and should be 28 years old by the pageant night."
Miss International is set to take place in Yokohama, Japan, in November.
Rushton, on the other hand, will turn 29 this May, as pointed out by local pageant websites.
When asked specifically by Missosology's Drew Francisco during the livestream if someone who is turning 29 by the pageant night is not allowed to compete, Diaz replied: "Right now, based on the contract that we have sent, and those who have already signed up and paid for the franchise, that is the understanding."
The Miss International director went on to address rumors of changes in the age limit.
"Maybe you're hearing some rumors from different people about change in age and stuff like that. You have to be very aware that the national organization has no power to dictate the age limit of our pageant. It's our pageant so they have to adhere to the rules and regulations that we have set up," he said.
"To set the record straight, we actually considered accepting girls who would've turned 29 before the pageant happens. But this was probably thought about more than a half a year ago, around July or August. Because we are still hoping that we could do the pageant around January, February, or March . But it just got moved further so sorry to say, we just to stick with the age limit that we have already established in the contract," he explained.
Watch Diaz talk about the age limit in Miss International starting at the 1:30:48 mark in the video below:
Rushton has yet to release a statement regarding the announcement.
Meanwhile, Diaz also revealed some of the "exciting changes" that pageant fans can expect in the next Miss International. These include holding the event mostly in English instead of Japanese in previous editions, and efforts to have Miss International broadcasted in "as many countries as possible."
"Hopefully it will be beamed live in the Philippines, and Thailand as well," he said.
Sireethorn Leearamwat of Thailand has yet to pass on her crown since winning Miss International in November 2019, making her the pageant's longest reigning titleholder in history.
The Philippines has so far won Miss International six times.
The country's last representative, Bea Patricia "Patch" Magtanong, finished in the Top 8.