‘Extremely difficult’ Omicron chaos prompts WEF to cancel Davos Economic Forum

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The annual get-together of world leaders, executives and other key financial figures was due to take place from the 17th to the 21st January in the Swiss town of Davos. In a statement released by the WEF today though it will be moved to early summer. The WEF said the pandemic was now making it “extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting.” It added: “Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary.”

Last January’s meeting was also postponed to the summer with plans for it to take place in Singapore, however this was eventually cancelled due to Covid.

The event’s founder, Professor Klaus Schwab said: “The deferral of the Annual Meeting will not prevent progress through continued digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society.”

“Public-private cooperation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace.

“We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon.”

Participants will instead be invited to an online series called State of the World which organisers say will bring together global leaders to focus on shaping solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Cancellation could bring a major blow to the WEF’s revenue though.

Last year’s cancellations saw a loss of around £34.5m in participation fees meaning a similar hole could be faced this year.

Membership fees have also been steadily declining in recent years with a number of companies such as BT cutting ties.

Speakers planned for this year included Chinese premier Xi Jinping, French president Emmanuel Macron and president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

US President Joe Biden was reported to be skipping the event in January while his predecessor Donald Trump attended twice while in office.

As well as world leaders the event has also previously played host to activists such as Greta Thunberg.

Launched in 1971 the WEF says it aims to “improve the state of the world” however it has fallen under increased criticism over the years for being out of touch and elitist.

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News of the cancellation comes at a time Omicron is casting considerable uncertainty over many businesses.

With growing speculation over new restrictions in the UK the FTSE has fallen over one percent today.

Meanwhile in the US the Dow Jones fell 1.8 percent since opening.

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