DUBAI (Reuters) - Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to be delayed by up to a year due to the global coronavirus pandemic, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Organizers estimated last year that 11 million overseas visitors would attend the event, billed as a showpiece of culture, business and technology with pavilions from 192 countries plus concerts and other events.
The Expo 2020 steering committee, comprising of officials from the United Arab Emirates and foreign countries participating in the event, are expected to recommend a delay when they meet virtually on Monday later in the afternoon.
An Expo spokesman declined to comment.
A final, binding decision would be made at a later meeting of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which awards the event, though it is unlikely they would go against the recommendation, two of the sources said.
Organizers have been considering delaying the event by at least a few months as the pandemic, which has infected over half a million globally, wreaks havoc on the global economy, the sources said.
One of those sources, and a fourth, said organizers were also considering delaying the event by a year.
Countries have closed their borders, imposed curfews and some industries, such as aviation, have ground to a near halt, making it extremely difficult to host any event.
Expo 2020, which is scheduled to run from October 20 to April 10 2021, is currently the last major event still officially planned after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were last week postponed by a year, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history.
Dubai has spent billions of dollars of infrastructure in preparation and local officials and executives have said the world event would be a major driver of economic growth.