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The World Economic Forum will hold its annual meeting in Singapore in 2021, marking only the second time in two decades that the global gathering of economic and political elites will meet outside the Swiss ski town of Davos.
“The change of location reflects the Forum’s priority to protect the health and safety of participants and the host community,” WEF said in a statement.
The WEF annual meeting is so closely associated with the Swiss city that hosts it that the gathering is also known as “Davos” for short. The last time the meeting was held outside of Davos was in 2002, when she moved to New York, partly out of solidarity for the terrorist attacks of September 11, and in part because security costs have skyrocketed to millions of dollars in their wake.
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Next year’s WEF annual meeting will take place in May, instead of its usual time slot at the end of January. The WEF made the decision to postpone the summit to June. Then in October, the WEF chose to relocate Davos to Lucerne, a Swiss city with a more temperate climate.
The decision to move the meeting to an entirely different continent demonstrates unease over the level of COVID-19 infections across Europe, even as a vaccine rollout looms on the horizon. Switzerland reported more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while Singapore reported three.
Public health experts called Singapore’s tactics of tackling the disease exemplary when the COVID-19 pandemic spread earlier this year. The city has managed to minimize local infections without disrupting the economy.
However, a business conference held in Singapore at the end of January gained global media attention after a British participant returned to Europe and infected several others during his trip. The conference was double a “super spreader event”.
The Singapore government has also overlooked a massive epidemic in the narrow dormitories housing the city’s migrant workers earlier this year, leading to a sudden increase in infection. Between late March and mid-April, Singapore’s daily workload rose from 35 to a peak of 1,426, pushing the city into a phase of strict lockdown.
The city-state is currently temporarily coming out of closure and is seeking to restart its tourism and events industry. A recent plan to open a “travel bubble“With Hong Kong, allowing passengers to travel between the two cities without being quarantined, was scrapped after Hong Kong entered a”fourth wave“From COVID-19 transmission.
But Singapore operates several “GreenwayWith countries like China, South Korea and Indonesia. Greenways allow business and diplomatic travelers to undergo testing instead of quarantine on arrival.
By the time the WEF’s annual meeting meets in May next year, Singapore will have accumulated months of experience managing travel during the pandemic era, likely while maintaining low infection rates.
But it should be noted that the Singapore meeting will not be the first “Davos” event of the year. In January, during the week that the WEF Annual Meeting is normally held, the WEF hosts a virtual summit called Davos agenda. The online forum will see the usual crowd of politicians and business leaders exchanging views on how to boost the post-pandemic economy.
Then in April, the WEF will host the World Summit on Technology Governance in Tokyo, in person. It seems that world leaders feel they can’t accomplish a lot without rubbing their shoulders.
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