In light of the impact COVID-19 will have on global preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai, its Steering Committee has convened a second virtual meeting with representatives from participating nations to discuss the possibility of postponing the event by one year. With 192 countries participating, the global event was projected to draw 25 million visits.
Photo credit: Expo 2020 Dubai
In a circular issued to media today [Tuesday, March 31], participating countries briefed the Steering Committee on the global precautionary measures that have to be taken to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in the preparation of the mega-event.
The Steering Committee reviewed the major impact that the spread of COVID-19 is having on global public, social, and economic health, with members reaffirming their solidarity with the international community as it navigates through the ramifications resulting from this unprecedented global crisis.
Expo 2020 Organizers reaffirmed the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to working hand-in-hand with its international partners to deliver a World Expo which holds true to its founding purpose of providing an inclusive global platform to address shared challenges, and seek solutions in the sprit of international cooperation and global solidarity. The global platform that Expo 2020 will provide will be needed more than ever, expressed organizers.
The Committee collectively agreed to explore with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the World Expo governing body, the possibility of a one-year delay on the opening of Expo 2020. The BIE will now work with its Member States and Expo 2020 Dubai organizers to establish a change in dates. A final decision on postponement will be made by the BIE’s Executive Committee and the General Assembly as, Article 28 of the BIE Convention stipulates that a change of dates requires a two-thirds majority vote from Member States of the Organisation.
Elaborating on the decision, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The global situation is fast-moving, and remains unpredictable. Over the last several weeks, we have been consulting with key UAE and international stakeholders to review the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our plans and preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai.
“While they remain firmly committed to Expo 2020, many countries have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and they have therefore expressed a need to postpone the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai 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. We look forward to welcoming the world, which we are certain will only come out of this pressing challenge stronger, and more resilient than it ever was.”
“We will follow due BIE processes on making the decision to delay Expo 2020. We remain firm in our collective commitment to deliver an Expo that’s true to its time and to our shared, urgent priorities. We believe that in light of this global challenge, humanity needs to come together to remember what unites us. That remains the collective ambition of all those involved in this Expo,” she added.
Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the BIE, welcomed the Expo 2020 organizers’ approach and the Steering Committee’s recommendations. He said: “The world is facing extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances and we all expect the challenges to continue in the months to come. Today’s agreement by the organizer and the members of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Steering Committee to explore options for a one-year delay to the opening of the World Expo is welcome. In the spirit and in accordance with the Paris Convention of 1928, any decision on the World Expo needs to be collaborative. and agreed upon collectively in a vote of the countries that form the BIE. We will move forward in supervising the process to follow in accordance with the rules and regulations of the BIE convention.”
“I am confident that we will collectively overcome the challenges caused by this global crisis. The UAE’s decision to support a one-year postponement demonstrates pragmatism, openness, and commitment to delivering an Expo that lives up to our shared ambition. We retain full confidence in the UAE’s ability to host a World Expo that inspires and delights millions, when the time is right.”
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