The World Economic Forum’s big annual event—popularly known as “Davos”—won’t be happening in late January, as it usually does.
This will be the second time that the World Economic Forum’s annual in-person meeting, which brings together major figures from the political and business worlds, has been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to Europe’s last winter wave of infections, the 2021 gathering was initially rescheduled to take place in late August—and in Singapore, which is notably distant from the Swiss ski resort that lends its name to the Davos shindig. However, as cases then rose in Asia, the organization cancelled the 2021 event altogether.
Davos’s organizers were hoping to get the meeting back to its regular slot (and location) in 2022, but it was not to be—the event is now postponed until early summer. As before, a European wave is to blame: this time it’s the Omicron variant, which is prompting fresh lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the unprecedented speed at which it is spreading.
“The deferral of the Annual Meeting will not prevent progress through continued digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society,” said Klaus Schwab, who founded the WEF half a century ago, in a statement. “Public-private cooperation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace. We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon.”
The foundation said it had closely collaborated with disease experts and the Swiss government as it planned the event, but “despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary.”
As from Monday, Davos (the town) is like the rest of Switzerland applying stricter COVID rules, effectively barring unvaccinated people from indoor public areas, including large events. The measures will be in place at least until Jan. 24, which would have been a few days after Davos (the event) wrapped up.
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