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What will it take for in-person events to return during Covid-19?

Attendees sit apart at social distanced tables segregated by ropes, during a conference held by the Institute of Policy Studies at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in Singapore January 25, 2021. Picture taken January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Reuters/Edgar Su
Conferencing during Covid-19.
  • Tripti Lahiri
By Tripti Lahiri

Asia bureau chief


Davos was the first—and the last—big, in-person, international event to take place in 2020. Many of the 3,000 delegates who gathered at the end of January in the town nestled in the Swiss Alps were unaware that a global pandemic was looming.

Neither could they have imagined that a year later there would be two Davos editions—an online one taking place this week, and an IRL special edition in May in Singapore—if the threat of infection from the coronavirus is subdued enough to allow for it.

Meanwhile, what should have been the biggest event of 2020—the Olympics—ended up being postponed. As a result, Japan received under 5 million tourist arrivals last year, instead of the 40 million it had targeted. Now with many parts of Japan again under a state of emergency due to rising case numbers, doubts are already setting in about whether the postponed event can actually begin as planned on July 23.

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