Coronavirus: governing body supports plan to delay Expo 2020 Dubai for a year

The postponement must have the support of a general assembly vote that will be completed by May 29 in order to be ratified

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The governing body responsible for Expo 2020 Dubai has provisionally agreed to delay the event for a year to allow time to overcome challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The name of the world fair would remain as Expo 2020 Dubai under the plan.

This decision was taken by the executive committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The change of dates to October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 must be ratified by support from two-thirds majority of the BIE member states.

Since the general assembly cannot be held in Paris, member states have been asked to cast their vote remotely by May 29.

The voting will begin from April 24.

Once the motion receive a two-thirds majority of eligible and voting member states, the dates of Expo 2020 Dubai will be officially changed.

On Tuesday, delegates of 12 states approved  the date change request from the UAE government based on an assessment of the “unforeseen impact of the Covid-19 on public health, economic activity and global restrictions on movement,” a BIE statement said.

Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, BIE secretary general, said he was sure that when the time was right, “Expo 2020 Dubai will constitute the best platform to build, with renewed optimism and hope, a better and brighter future for all.”

Alain Berger, chairman of the BIE’s executive committee and a delegate of France, said the panel supported the UAE's request and recommended countries around the world reach the same consensus.

“The UAE’s willingness to listen to participating countries and its pragmatism to take the necessary steps towards postponement demonstrate yet again its strong commitment to hosting a truly inclusive and inspirational World Expo,” he said.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai, said the country welcomed the BIE’s support.

She said the UAE looked forward to working constructively with partners to the new date “when the Expo will open its doors, and the UAE will welcome the world.”

The BIE is an intergovernmental organisation with 170 member states that leads and promotes world fairs.

News of plans to postpone the expo came after the decision to put off the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games and the Uefa Euro 2020 football to next year.

Billed as the world's greatest show, the event was expected to welcome millions of visitors from October 20, with 70 per cent of them from outside the UAE.

The spread of the coronavirus has prompted countries to issue lockdown orders with more than 165,000 deaths worldwide and 2.4 million people confirmed to have contracted the virus. More than 636,000 have recovered.

This has led to travel restrictions and unparalleled demands on government resources.