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Asia Minute: Pandemic Delays International Gatherings

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While progress continues with vaccines around the world, travel plans remain on hold for many. A major international business gathering planned for May in Southeast Asia is the latest to be postponed.

The World Economic Forum announced with some fanfare in December that its annual meeting would depart the snowy slopes of Davos Switzerland this year, and move to the warmer climes of Singapore in May.

But those plans have shifted, and the group will instead gather in Singapore in the third week of August.

Earlier, the World Economic Forum praised Singapore’s response to the pandemic.

The announcement of the postponement noted that “local transmission of Covid-19 in Singapore remains at negligible levels” — adding that the change in timing “reflects the international challenges in containing the pandemic.”

The meetings will still involve a complex network of vaccines, testing and contact tracing, but the shift underlines the uncertainties of arranging international gatherings.

The Australian Open is set to get underway next week, but the country has tightened restrictions in the state of Victoria after a worker at part of the event’s hotel quarantine system tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Tokyo Olympics is of course perhaps the largest looming international event. Organizers say they still plan to go ahead with the games from July 23rd to August 8th.

A recent survey done by Kyodo News found about 80% of those surveyed in Japan believe the games should be rescheduled or cancelled.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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