World Economic Forum cancels 2021 annual meeting

Next meeting will take place early in 2022 but a location and date have yet to be announced

FILE PHOTO: Passers-by hold their mobile phones as people take a selfie photo using a smartphone, with Singapore's central business district skyline, in Singapore, May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lam/File Photo    GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD
Powered by automated translation

The World Economic Forum cancelled plans to host its annual meeting this year amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in some countries.

Organisers had already postponed its traditional gathering of public and private sector leaders that takes place in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos in January and moved it to Singapore. It was initially due to take place this month and was subsequently postponed until August.

"Regretfully, the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants combine to make it impossible to realise a global meeting with business, government and civil society leaders from all over the world at the scale which was planned," the forum said in a statement on Monday.

The next annual meeting will be held in the first half of 2022. The date and location will be "based on an assessment of the situation later this summer".

"It was a difficult decision, particularly in view of the great interest of our partners to come together not just virtually but in person,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF. “But ultimately, the health and safety of everyone concerned is our highest priority.”

Almost 164 million cases of Covid-19 have been recorded around the world, with a second wave of infections peaking at almost 900,000 daily cases late last month, according to Worldometer. Almost 3.4 million deaths have been attributed to the pandemic since it began to spread early last year.

The distribution of vaccines is also accelerating, though, with more than 1.45 billion doses administered in 175 countries, according to Bloomberg's Vaccine Tracker. In the UAE, more than 11.48 million shots had been administered as of Monday, enough to cover 53.3 per cent of the population.