Asia Minute: Coronavirus Disrupting Some Events Across Asia, Not Others

Feb 5, 2020

While the death toll continues to rise from the coronavirus, attention remains focused on efforts to contain it. One situation that’s drawing differing reactions in Asia: what to do about special events.

The Singapore Airshow is set to get underway next week. Fewer visitors are expected this year, and 16 exhibitors have pulled out. But on Tuesday, the organizer of the event said the airshow will go on — although an aviation industry conference that usually runs at the same time has been cancelled.

In Japan, Sapporo’s annual Snow Festival started Tuesday, with less snow than usual, and fewer international visitors.

China has banned group travel because of the coronavirus — and that has hit hotel bookings in the northern Japanese city. Kyodo News quoted a member of the organizing committee as saying “Japanese tourists are also avoiding crowds this year over fears of getting infected.”

Other events have been cancelled — including this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival. Radio New Zealand reports 175,000 people attended last year.

In Singapore, large school assemblies have been banned starting today, and recess times have been staggered — to minimize gatherings of students in large numbers.

Decisions have not yet been made for a number of other events — including two large art gatherings in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Arts Festival set to get underway later this month and Art Basel Hong Kong — still scheduled for early March.