A final decision on postponement can only be made by the BIE, the World Expo governing body
Expo 2020 Dubai, slated to begin in October this year, is likely to be delayed by one year due to the coronavirus situation.
During a virtual meeting of its steering committee, with representatives of the countries taking part in the event, Expo organisers collectively agreed to explore the delay with BIE, the World Expo governing body, official news agency WAM reported.
The BIE will now work with its member states and Expo 2020 Dubai organisers to establish a change in dates.
A final decision on postponement can only be made by the BIE’s executive committee and the general assembly, the report stated. A change of dates requires a two-thirds majority vote from the member states of the organisation.
Reem Al Hashemy, 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.”
She added: “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.
“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.”
Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE said he welcomed the recommendation.
“The world is facing extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances and we all expect the challenges to continue in the months to come. The agreement by the organiser 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,” he said.
“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.”
The six-month long expo was scheduled to start on October 20, 2020 and run until April 10, 2021.
The first expo to be held in the MENASA region, it will include pavilions from 192 nations, with 25 million visits expected during the show. Up to 70 per cent of visitors anticipated to come from outside the UAE, the largest proportion of international visitors in the 169-year history of World Expos.