World Economic Forum postpones 2022 Davos meeting until summer amid Omicron fears
The World Economic Forum has postponed its annual gathering of the global elite in Davos as the Omicron variant rips across the globe.
The organisers said the uncertainty and high transmissibility of the strain made it ‘extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting’ at the Swiss ski resort.
The 2022 event was due to take place between January 17 and January 21.
Postponed: Davos World Economic Forum organisers said the uncertainty and high transmissibility of Omicron made it ‘extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting’
The annual junket sees politicians, captains of industry and corporate fat cats rub shoulders with diplomats, bankers and celebrities.
Rich and powerful attendees and speakers have included European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, Prince Charles, veteran investor George Soros, Bill Gates and Donald Trump.
It has also hosted celebrities including Bono, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Spacey, Will.i.am and Pharrell Williams as well as broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.
This is the second year that Davos has been rescheduled. The last in-person event took place in January 2020, just as the first wave of Covid was hitting China.
Since then it has been forced to change its meeting plans at least six times, scrapping alternative dates and locations from Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne and Singapore.
Around 2,000 people had registered for the summit next month – roughly two-thirds of the number who went in 2020.
It had arranged stringent testing protocols, as well as guidelines that included discouraging people from hugging and replacing buffets with individual portions of food.
The World Economic Forum was set up by economist and engineer Klaus Schwab in 1971. The organisation says it aims to ‘improve the state of the world’ by bringing together leaders from business, politics and academia.
Davos was the place where North and South Korea held a ministerial-level meeting for the first time in 1989.
But it has also been widely criticised as being elitist and jargon-filled, with the 2020 theme of ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’.
Schwab, 83, 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 co-operation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace.
‘We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon.’
The January 2022 event will be replaced by a series of online sessions, with another in-person meeting planned for some time early next summer.
A spokesman form the World Economic Forum said: ‘Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary.’