Coronavirus: Expo 2020 Dubai organisers back proposal to postpone event
The organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai have supported a decision to postpone the event for a year due to global disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Dubai has poured billions of dollars into Expo 2020, hoping the exhibition will generate new business and spur its economy amid a slowdown in growth.
While the event is set to begin in October, the organisers said in a statement on Monday that "many countries have been significantly impacted by Covid-19 and they have expressed a need to postpone Expo's opening by one year to enable them to overcome this challenge".
"The UAE and Expo 2020 Dubai have listened. And in the spirit of solidarity and unity, we supported the proposal to explore a one year postponement at today's Steering Committee meeting," the statement added.
The Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), who supervise and award the event, will make a final decision on the matter later in June. Only the BEI can make an official decision on the matter.
The coronavirus pandemic has swept across the Middle East, and the Gulf region, causing massive societal disruptions. The UAE has recorded 611 cases of the virus and five deaths according to the World Health Organisation's latest report.
The move comes after the announcement that other major world events were to be delayed because of the disease.
The Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the UEFA European Championship, an international football tournament, were both postponed.
Since the first 'Great Exhibition' in 1851 in London, world fairs have showcased technological progress, promoted international cooperation and projected national pride.
Still, in recent years they have also been derided as dated and needlessly expensive exercises.
Roughly 11 million foreign visitors were expected to attend Dubai's expo, and 192 countries were supposed to take part in the showcase of culture and technology, which was supposed to last around six months.
It was also expected to bring more than $9 billion in revenue from tourist spending, according to an estimate from Dubai-based Arqaam Capital.
The emirate would have spent roughly $8 billion in new infrastructure by the end of the exposition. The delay will be a huge squander since Dubai was relying on the expo's economic boost.