By Stephanie Nebehay and Silke Koltrowitz
ZURICH (Reuters) -The World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held in Singapore instead of Switzerland next year as the COVID-19 pandemic would make it difficult to ensure the health and safety of participants in Europe, WEF organisers said on Monday.
“The World Economic Forum will convene the Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore from 13-16 May. It will return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the Annual Meeting 2022,” the organisers said in a statement, released a day earlier than planned after Reuters reported the news.
WEF president Borge Brende said in an internal email seen by Reuters that health and safety concerns linked to the current COVID-19 situation in Europe made it impossible to organise the meeting in Lucerne-Buergenstock as initially planned, while Singapore had been successful in dealing with the pandemic.
“After careful consideration, and in light of the current situation with regards to COVID-19 cases, it was decided that Singapore was best placed to hold the meeting,” organisers said.
They had already decided in October to move the annual meeting of world political and business leaders to Buergenstock in central Switzerland from the hard-to-get-to ski resort Davos that has hosted the high-profile event since the early 1970s.
Moving the meeting to the Southeast Asian financial hub of Singapore, known as the Switzerland of Asia, allows it to hold an in-person meeting, the “first global leadership event to address worldwide recovery from the pandemic”, WEF organisers said.
Singapore, which in 2018 played host to a historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said its planned virus safety measures for the event could include on-arrival tests, pre-event and periodic antigen testing, as well as contact tracing of attendees.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, we are confident that Singapore will be able to continue maintaining public health and safety while supporting the WEF’s mission to effect positive change through collaboration and engagement,” Singapore trade minister Chan Chun Sing said in statement.
(Additional reporting by John Geddie in Singapore and Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan)