(Bloomberg) — Organizers of Expo 2020 Dubai are recommending a one-year delay to the world exhibition, the latest global event that looks set to be claimed by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the event’s steering committee, which comprises local government officials and foreign country representatives, agreed on a conference call Monday that a delay was needed and that the Paris-based based Bureau International des Expositions, or BIE, should study this option. The BIE awards the global event and its member states will have the final say.
Organizers and officials have for years presented the showcase exhibition as a boon for Dubai, which is part of the United Arab Emirates. The government and the private sector have spent billions of dollars building hotels and facilities in expectation of millions of visitors from around the world to the Middle East’s business and tourism hub.
“The global situation is fast moving, and remains unpredictable,” the event’s managing director, Reem Al Hashemi, said in a statement issued on state news agency WAM.
Hashemi, who is also U.A.E. minister of state for international cooperation, said many countries had been affected by the virus and had asked for the event to be postponed. The BIE’s Secretary General Dimitri Kerkentzes welcomed the decision and said it would be put to a vote.
To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Gulf state has shut airports to passenger traffic and is urging residents to stay at home after reporting about 570 cases. It extended a home-learning program to the end of the academic year on Monday.