The World Economic Forum (WEF), one of the largest gatherings attended by business and political leaders globally, will make its debut in Asia as the high number of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) cases was making it hard for Europe to hold mass gatherings safely.
The organizers were quoted in a report from CNBC on Monday that the annual business forum will be held in Singapore from May 13 to 16 next year. This would mark its second time to be hosted outside Switzerland since its establishment in 1971.
“The [WEF] will convene the Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore from 13-16 May. It will return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the Annual Meeting 2022,” the statement read.
WEF President Borge Brende said in an internal e-mail obtained by Reuters that health and safety concerns linked to the COVID-19 made it impossible for the meeting to be organized in Lucerne-Buergenstock as initially planned, whereas Singapore had been successful in dealing with the outbreak.
“After careful consideration, and in light of the current situation with regards to COVID-19 cases, it was decided that Singapore was best placed to hold the meeting,” organizers said.
Having been one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to report COVID-19 cases, Singapore has done successfully with keeping the virus outbreak at bay after reporting zero local transmission for 14 straight days and snuffing out the last cluster of infection at a workers’ dormitory.
Singapore, which in 2018 hosted a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, said its planned safety measures for the event cover on-arrival tests, pre-event and periodic antigen testing, as well as contact-tracing for attendees.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, we are confident that Singapore will be able to continue maintaining public health and safety while supporting the WEF’s mission to effect positive change through collaboration and engagement,” Singapore trade minister Chan Chun Sing was quoted as saying in a statement.
Singapore has kept its borders shut for most of 2020 and won international praises for having handled the virus situation which has included strict quarantine rules and contact tracing.
Last month, it deferred a travel bubble with Hong Kong after the latter’s number of COVID-19 cases shot up, leaving questions over how easy it will be for the Southeast Asian country to reopen borders without a widely-available vaccine.
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