Expo 2020 Dubai convened a second virtual meeting of its Steering Committee on 30 March as part of ongoing consultations that the impact of the unprecedented global crisis caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will have on global preparations of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The Steering Committee was briefed by participating countries on the precautionary measures that would have to be taken to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in the preparation of such a huge event. It also reviewed the major impact that the spread of COVID-19 is having on global public, social and economic health.
Expo 2020 organisers reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to working hand-in-hand with its international partners to deliver a World Expo, which holds true to its founding purpose: providing an inclusive global platform to address shared challenges, and seek solutions in the spirit of international cooperation and global solidarity.
The Committee collectively agreed to explore with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the World Expo’s governing body, the possibility of a one-year delay to the opening of Expo 2020. 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. Article 28 of the BIE Convention stipulates that a change of dates requires a two-thirds majority vote from member states.
Reem Al Hashemy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of 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. 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.”
“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. That remains the collective ambition of all those involved in this Expo,” she added.
BIE Secretary General Dimitri Kerkentzes said: “Today’s 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. In the spirit and in accordance with the Paris Convention of 1928, 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.”
“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.”
Expo 2020 Dubai organisers will continue to assess the situation and consult closely with all stakeholders in Dubai, the UAE and internationally.
UPDATE: On 4th May 2020, a statement from Dubai Media Office, read, “Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all after a two-thirds majority of Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Member States voted in favour of postponing the next World Expo by one year.
“The global mega event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, a delay that allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19. It also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”