The biggest celebration ever staged in the Arab world will have to wait a little longer. Organizers of Expo 2020 Dubai, the upcoming international exposition in the United Arab Emirates, revealed their intention to delay the launch of the event by one year due to concerns related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The annoucement was published in the official website of the Expo.
The issue arose during meetings between UAE officials, event organizers, stakeholders and representatives for countries with scheduled exhibitions. Participants grew concerned of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the Expo should it open its doors on October 20 as scheduled.
“We remain firm in our collective aim to deliver an Expo that is true to its time and to our shared, urgent priorities,” the statement assures. “But it is clear that this is not the right time.”
Dubbed “the World’s gratest show” by its organizers, Expo 2020 Dubai has been in preparation since November 27, 2013, the date when Dubai was awarded the opportunity to host the six-month event. Like other world fairs, Expo Dubai has grand plans to showcase the best in art, science, industry, entertainment and sustainability. Millions of visitors from around the globe are expected to attend, with 190 countries participating via exhibits, events, restaurants and attractions.
Expo 2020 Dubai and COVID-19
Unfortunately, like most grand plans and events planned for this year, Expo 2020 Dubai will seemingly be sidetracked because of a health scare unlike the world has experienced since the Spanish Flu or the Bubonic Plague. Dubai authorities have kept COVID-19 at bay thanks in large part to timely sterilization campaigns. Still, over 600 cases and two deaths related to the disease have been confirmed in the area. Schools have imposed distance learning for the remainder of the school year as part of the UAE’s quarantine efforts.
Quarantines and social distancing initiatives are starting to bear fruit in worldwide efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Still, holding off the event would give participating nations affected by the coronavirus time to regroup and prepare.
The final verdict on whether to pospone Expo 2020 Dubai and how to proceed must come from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organization tasked since 1928 to oversee world expos. Article 28 of the BIE Convention stipulates that a change of dates requires a two-thirds majority vote from the BIE Member States.