The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will now take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, after the spread of COVID-19 forced organizers to postpone the sporting mega-event for the first time in 124 years.
Global travel restrictions, economic pressures, and a raft of other coronavirus-related issues look set to push the highly anticipated Dubai Expo 2020, scheduled for October, to 2021. Organizers announced the proposal after a virtual meeting with stakeholders on March 30.
The steering committee avowed that the novel coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on its preparations, with one participant saying there was a “need to postpone Expo’s opening by one year, to enable them to overcome this challenge.”
“In spirit of solidarity and unity, we support the proposal to explore a one-year postponement made by the Steering Committee at today’s meeting. We will follow the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) processes on making the decision to delay Expo 2020. The BIE will now work with its Member States and Expo 2020 Dubai to establish a change in dates,” Dubai Expo 2020 said in a statement on its website.
BIE Secretary General Dimitri Kerkentzes commended the steering committee’s sensible approach to the threat posed by COVID-19 and welcomed the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) decision, echoing a sentiment shared by many member states.
“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,” said Kerkentzes.
An estimated 25 million visitors, 70% coming from outside the Emirates, were expected to flow through the specially designed Expo precinct from October 2020 to April 2021. The mega-event still promises to be the largest ever held in the Arab world and may be bigger and better still if granted an extra year to prepare.
Member states will vote on the postponement proposal at the next BIE meeting in June. Stakeholders expect a forthcoming two-thirds majority vote, which is required to approve the date change.
Dubai began preparations to host the Dubai World Expo 2020 in 2013. The “World’s Greatest Show” was meant to give Dubai the opportunity to shine on the world stage, address the universal challenges of our times, and provide a serious boost for the national economy.
The UAE has invested an estimated $8 billion in Expo 2020 infrastructure projects alone and was banking on tourist revenues in the vicinity of $9 billion over the course of the 173 day showcase.
It remains to be seen if the visitation numbers and economic benefits envisaged can still be achieved in an uncertain post-COVID-19 environment. In the meantime, the steering committee reminded everyone to “stay home, stay safe.”