Organizers of the World Economic Forum, an annual draw for elite-level business, political and cultural leaders, have postponed the January 2021 edition to next summer due to concerns about COVID-19.
In place of an in-person event, during the week of January 25 an online conference is planned featuring speakers tackling the state of the world.
Held in the mountain resort town of Davos, Switzerland, the event hosts a cross-section of speakers, but the risk was still deemed too high, especially with so much travel involved.
“The decision was not taken easily, since the need for global leaders to come together to design a common recovery path and shape the ‘Great Reset’ in the post-COVID-19 era is so urgent,” Adrian Monck, managing director of public engagement for the World Economic Forum, wrote in the official announcement. “However, the advice from experts is that we cannot do so safely in January.”
Dates and details about the live event next summer have yet to be finalized. Monck said they will be released “as soon as we are assured that all conditions are fulfilled to guarantee the health and safety of our participants and the hosting community.”
Switzerland has fared well compared with its European neighbors, with about 40,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,700 deaths. But a recent uptick in cases prompted the CDC to warn U.S. residents of “high risk” in the country, recommending against non-essential travel.
Just prior to the onset of the pandemic last January, nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, including 53 heads of state, descended on Davos. Speakers included President Donald Trump, climate activist Greta Thunberg, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino.
The theme for 2020 was “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” with a focus on income inequality, societal division and the climate crisis.
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