Expo organisers prepare to hold Dubai event delayed by coronavirus


© Reuters. The sign of Dubai Expo 2020 is seen at the entrance of the site in Dubai


By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) – The organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai said on Saturday they are committed to hosting the event which was postponed for a year due to coronavirus, but are ready for all possible scenarios amid a new global wave of the pandemic.

The world’s fair, which had been due to run from October 2020 to April this year, was delayed last May after participating countries said they needed to focus on tackling the spread of infections.

“We are committed to hosting Expo in October 2021. We are following all the guidelines, all the international guidelines on how to deal with COVID, social distancing,” the event’s Chief Development and Delivery Officer Ahmed al-Khatib told reporters.

He said the organisers were ready for all scenarios and expected the doors to open on Oct. 1. The event will run to March 31, 2022.

Part of the exhibition site will be open to the public from next week until April to drum up local interest for the event which has been nearly a decade in the making.

But with the pandemic once again raging around the world, there are questions over the viability of hosting international public events.

A Japanese cabinet minister this week said the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned.

Expo 2020 Dubai had expected to attract 11 million foreign visitors, more than the population of the United Arab Emirates.

Coronavirus infections in the UAE have risen to record daily levels this month, with cases in excess of 3,000, prompting Britain to remove the Gulf state from its travel corridor list.

While most coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in the UAE, social distancing and mask-wearing in public are still required. Visitors have flocked to Dubai during its peak winter tourism season, while other countries impose new lockdowns.

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