BIE officially sanctions one-year deferment of Expo 2020

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Expo 2020 Dubai. Image courtesy:

The General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has officially passed the one-year deferment of Expo 2020 Dubai. The Expo will now take place between October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. The event will maintain the name ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’.

The Government of the UAE had earlier demanded a shift in dates of Expo 2020 Dubai following a meeting of the Expo 2020 Dubai Steering Committee in which participating nations uttered their need to defer the Expo’s opening in order to master the difficulties brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with BIE statutes, the offer was reviewed by the Executive Committee of the BIE, which on April 21 proposed the deferment to the General Assembly of the BIE. In accordance with the BIE Convention, the shift in dates needed a two-thirds majority vote of Member States for the change of dates to take effect.

Since April 24, voting on the deferment has been carried out remotely by the government-appointed representatives of the BIE’s 170 Member States. GCC Business News had earlier this month reported that the required two-thirds majority was principally attained and the closure of voting was just a formality remaining open in accordance with the Executive Committee’s recommendation until May 29 at 6 PM (Paris time).

Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, the Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), stated: “I welcome this resounding expression of support shown by the international community to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai. While this situation is unprecedented, the response by the Government of the UAE and by our Member States demonstrates the strong bonds that tie us and the shared commitment we have to deliver a truly inclusive World Expo.

“The difficulties raised by the Covid-19 pandemic illustrate the importance of sharing solutions and coordinating our actions. The time we spend apart leads us to reflect on the importance of being together and reminds us that even in the digital age, shared experiences are the essence of our humanity. The world is now more than ever looking forward to Expo 2020 Dubai to connect, reflect and celebrate the future.”

Expo 2020 organizers had earlier issued a statement:

Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all after a two-thirds majority of Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Member States voted in favour of postponing the next World Expo by one year.

The global mega event will now run from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, a delay that allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of Covid-19, and allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “We welcome the decision of BIE Member States to support the delay Expo 2020 Dubai by one year. We are thankful to Member States for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed.

“This affirmation by the international community of Dubai’s offering and its ability to deliver, further strengthens our commitment to matching ambition with achievement to hosting an event that will capture the world’s imagination, when the time is right.” ‘

With a BIE General Assembly impossible to stage due to Covid-19 restrictions, Member States voted remotely on the BIE Executive Committee’s recommendation for a delay as proposed by the UAE Government at the beginning of April and recommended by the BIE Executive Committee on April 21. While the vote remained open until May 29, the two-thirds threshold was surpassed within a week of voting opening on April 24.

Expo 2020, the first World Expo to be conducted in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the biggest ever event to take place in the Arab world will embrace 192 countries, plus organizations, multilateral establishments and educational institutions.