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Latest: Baselworld speaks

by Peter Chong on February 28, 2020

The ongoing saga of the effects on fears from COVID-19 continues. Yesterday the FHH confirmed that Watches & Wonders 2020 is cancelled. We wrote to our Baselworld Press Contact. This is their response.

Update from evening of February 27, Basel time.

“The health and safety of exhibitors, guests and employees, is the key concern and Baselworld has every intention of complying with the recommendations of the national health department as well as the city of Basel. Baselworld is a public show, counting more than 80’000 visitors per edition. A dedicated team is closely monitoring the situation on an hourly basis and following the guidance of the respective state, national and international health authorities, the current predicament surrounding Coronavirus its absolutely highest priority. To date, there are no specific requirements from the authorities regarding the organization of Baselworld Switzerland, and the show management is in close consultation with exhibitors. With great regret, Baselworld takes note of the Watches & Wonders decision to cancel the 2020 edition.

We remain at your disposal for any information you might need,

With kind regards, Marie Kuttler, The Baselworld Press Service

Opinion: Even though this is in a one to one communication from the Press Office, the email looks like it is a carefully crafted press release. Each word is chosen with care. And leads me to believe that the pressure for Baselworld management to cancel is mounting.

I think it will be highly likely for the show to be cancelled. The current prognosis of the COVID-19 outbreak seem to be bleak. The disease seem to be massively spreading in nearby northern Italy, in addition to many other parts of the world. The disease does not seem to have abated in the spread around the world, and though the World Health Organization has stopped short of calling this a worldwide pandemic, many other health authorities have not. Many are preparing their communities to deal with the epidemic.

On the one hand, Baselworld, being a global event, will be expecting tens of thousands of visitors from all over to congregate in the small confines of the Messe. On the other hand, the current mood where non-essential international travel is being curtailed, might mean that the show will see a huge drop in visitors. Both recipes for disaster.

These very same reasons have triggered the cancellation of Watches & Wonders. Baselworld management will risk the dangers of being labeled “out of touch” if they do not cancel. Having said that, Baselworld have soldiered on during through both World Wars, and through the SARS outbreak.

But this is pure speculation on my part. And we shall see in the next week, how this saga unfolds.

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