The United Arab Emirates has officially requested to postpone the start of the Expo 2020 Dubai until October next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) said on Saturday.
"Following consultations with the BIE, participating countries and key stakeholders, the UAE has proposed 1 October 2021 - 31 March 2022 as the new opening dates of Expo 2020 Dubai."
Expo is a major business and cultural event held every five years in cities around the world selected by the BIE based in Paris.
The UAE government also requested approval to continue using Expo 2020 Dubai as the event's official name.
The BIE said in a statement it would hold a virtual meeting on April 21 to discuss "options for a change of dates".
"The request of the UAE government has been sent following in-depth discussions by the Expo 2020 Dubai steering committee with the organizer and the BIE on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said the statement.
"A final decision on a change of dates can only be made by a two-thirds majority vote of BIE member states."
The Expo following Dubai is due to be held in Osaka, Japan, in 2025.
Dubai organizers last month backed a proposal to postpone the event due to start on Oct. 20 this year and run until April 10 because of the pandemic.
Two-thirds of the BIE’s 170 member states must support the proposal for the dates to be changed. A final decision is expected in June when member states meet.
"Many countries have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and they have therefore expressed a need to postpone the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai by one year," Expo 2020 Dubai director-general Reem al-Hashimi said in a statement.
"The UAE and Expo 2020 Dubai have listened. And in the spirit of solidarity and unity, we supported the proposal to explore a one-year postponement."
The UAE has reported 1,505 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths. It has enforced extensive lockdown measures to curb the spread of the disease including an ongoing nighttime curfew.
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