World Economic Forum calls off its 2021 Singapore meeting amid a troubling rise in local COVID cases

World Economic Forum calls off its 2021 Singapore meeting amid a troubling rise in local COVID cases
A sign of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is pictured on January 10, 2017 at its headquarters in Cologny near Geneva.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
  • The World Economic Forum has called off its Singapore meeting, originally scheduled for this August.
  • The WEF said its next meeting will take place in the first half of 2022 instead.
  • The cancellation comes amid the proliferation of new COVID clusters and unlinked cases in Singapore.

The World Economic Forum is calling off its Singapore meeting in August due to COVID concerns.

Initially billed as "Singapore's Davos," the meeting was moved to Asia from the ski resort in the Swiss Alps where it has traditionally been held since its first edition in 1971. Thousands of world leaders and members of the global elite were set to fly into the Asian city-state from August 17 to 20 this year to discuss the world's challenges - but the meeting has now been canned entirely.

"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 realize a global meeting with business, government, and civil society leaders from all over the world at the scale which was planned," said the organization in a statement released on Monday.

In the statement, the WEF added that its next meeting will take place in the first half of 2022, with the location and date of the event to be determined this summer.

"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," said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF


"But ultimately the health and safety of everyone concerned is our highest priority," Schwab added.

CNBC reported in December last year that shifting the WEF meeting's locale to Singapore would allow for in-person gatherings, as the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in Europe made it difficult to organize the event safely. However, the meeting was re-scheduled once in February, when the meeting's dates were shifted from May to August 2021 due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The cancellation comes amid new reports of COVID clusters developing in Singapore - with a large, 78-case cluster emerging at its famed Changi Airport - and an increase in un-linked cases in the local community.

Initially touted as a COVID haven and one of the safest places to be during the pandemic, the country has moved back under strict COVID restrictions due to a sudden surge in unlinked community-transmitted cases carrying the deadly B1617 variant.

The country's Ministry of Health noted in a statement on Monday night that the overall number of cases in the community increased from 32 cases in the week before, to 149 cases in the last week alone, with 42 unlinked cases emerging in the last seven days.


According to a report by Channel News Asia, Singapore has seen over 20 community cases reported every day for the last five days. As of press time, Singapore recorded 61,613 confirmed COVID cases and 31 deaths.

In response to a request for comment from Insider, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement that it "fully appreciates the challenges caused by the ongoing global pandemic, particularly for a large meeting with a broad span of international participants."

"We will continue to work actively with the World Economic Forum and other key international organizations to promote collaborations between stakeholders on issues of global concern," said the ministry.