WTC2020 postponed to September 2020 26 Feb 2020

TunnelTalk reporting

It is official. A World Tunnel Congress in May for 2020 is cancelled. Instead the WTC congress for 2020 will be postponed to 11-17 September 2020 at the same venue and in the same host city - at the KLCC Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

WTC2020 postponed from May to September 20
WTC2020 postponed from May to September 20

The change is confirmed as being caused by the impact and spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Asia and now to other parts of the world.

In a joint statement from the ITA and the Malaysian Tunnelling Technical Group of the IEM of ITA Member Nation Malysia, WTC2020 Organizing Committee Chair Dr Teik Aun Ooi, and ITA Executive Director Olivier Vion, explained that the health and safety of travelling delegates and exhibitors is the “utmost importance” - as is the success of each WTC event. The statement reads: “It is not possible at the moment to predict the evolution of this virus and many people could have been forced not to participate. For the time being the World Health Organization recommends limiting mass gatherings.”

The statement also acknowledges that for many this change is not ideal and that if required, documents can be made available for changing flight and hotel bookings.

The change is disruptive on several accounts.

Many have registered and paid for the congress and may not be able to attend in September; many have booked non-refundable flights and hotel rooms that may not be transferrable to new dates; and the postponement is rescheduled on the assumption that all will have returned to normal by September.

Postponement to September also crowds an already busy month of industry events including AFTES 2020 in Paris, the TAC conference in Canada, ACUUS 2020 in Finland and InnoTrans in Germany. Ability to attend two or three events in one month will be expensive both in time and money for delegates and exhibitors.

ITA and IEM announce postponement of WTC2020
ITA and IEM announce postponement of WTC2020

The vulnerability of international events is not unknown and disruption has been caused in the past. Notably in 2010 when the volcano in Iceland in May caused the grounding of all flights for several days and had an operating impact on bauma, the major international construction equipment trade show held every second year in Munich, Germany. The event went ahead as there was no time available to cancel or reschedule but exhibition space was left with the crates of materials on the booths with no one to unpack them and manage the stands and delegate numbers were substantially down with trains and highways overcrowded and congested and visitors and participants made travel alternatives to flying.

Had the WTC gone ahead in May, exhibitors and delegates choosing not to travel and attend would have undermined the success of the event and there would have been criticism that the event was not cancelled or postponed.

For the moment the 2020 NAT North American Tunneling conference in Nashville in early June is going ahead and on a broader much higher impact scale, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, from 24 July to 9 August remains a fixture.

In its statement, the ITA and WTC Organising Committee concluded that postponement “is the best solution to be able to organize this major event for the entire tunnelling industry”.

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