The World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held in Singapore instead of Switzerland next year as the Covid-19 pandemic would make it difficult to ensure the health and safety of participants in Europe, WEF organisers said on Monday.
“The World Economic Forum will convene the Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore from May 13 – 16. It will return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the Annual Meeting 2022,” the organisers said in a statement, released a day earlier than planned after Reuters reported the news.
WEF president Borge Brende said in an internal email seen by Reuters that health and safety concerns linked to the current Covid-19 situation in Europe made it impossible to organise the meeting in Lucerne-Buergenstock as initially planned, while Singapore had been successful in dealing with the pandemic.
“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,” organisers said.
Singapore, which in 2018 played host to a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said its planned virus safety measures for the event could include on-arrival tests, pre-event and periodic antigen testing, as well as contact tracing of 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 said in a statement.
Chan said the WEF event would also have a special virtual component to allow for greater participation given travel difficulties posed by coronavirus contagion.
Singapore, a city state and key global travel node, has kept its borders largely shut for most of 2020 and won international plaudits for its handling of the virus, which has included rigorous contact tracing and strict quarantine rules.
However, a plan to open a quarantine-free air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong last month was abandoned at the eleventh hour, leaving questions over how easy it will be for Singapore to reopen borders without widely-available vaccines.
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