The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced on Monday that it would "regretfully" be canceling its Special Annual Meeting in Singapore in August due to uncertainties surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Regretfully, the tragic circumstances unfolding across geographies, an uncertain travel outlook, differing speeds of vaccination rollout and the uncertainty around new variants combine to make it impossible to realise a global meeting with business, government and civil society leaders from all over the world at the scale which was planned," the WEF said in a statement.
"This is despite the excellent support provided by the Government of Singapore," the organization added.
“It was a difficult decision, particularly in view of the great interest of our partners to come together not just virtually but in person, and to contribute to a more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable world,” WEF founder and executive Klaus Schwab said. “But ultimately the health and safety of everyone concerned is our highest priority.”
The annual meeting usually takes place in Switzerland, but the organization announced in December that it had moved locations to Singapore, which has been dubbed the “Switzerland of the East" for its well-regarded international banking operations.
As the South China Morning Post reports, new cases in Singapore have risen in the past few days, with many people testing positive for the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first found in India.
Public schools were closed this week due to the recent rise in cases.
According to Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, the decision to close schools was partially motivated by the observation that the B.1.617 strain “appeared to affect children more."
The World Health Organization has confirmed over 61,000 COVID-19 cases and 31 related deaths in Singapore, with over 2.2 million vaccines doses administered so far.