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COVID-19 Concerns Sideline Automotive News World Congress

Postponement follows cancellations of Beijing, Geneva and New York auto shows
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At this point, it seems inevitable that virtually every large-scale event scheduled to take place in the next few weeks—and possibly months—will be postponed or canceled over concerns about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

This is true across businesses, schools, entertainment, politics and life in general to try to slow the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 4,600 deaths and is classified as a global pandemic.

Auto Impact Continues

The latest automotive event to succumb is the Automotive News World Congress, which was slated for March 24-25 in Detroit. The decision was made just a day after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Michigan was reported this week.

 

“While we were very committed to our program, rising concerns about the safety of our attendees and staff, as well as events of recent days, led us to the decision,” publisher Jason Stein and associate publisher Karen Rentschler said in a joint statement.

The announcement follows on the heels of other recent major automotive cancelations, including the Beijing, Geneva and New York auto shows.

Rescheduling?

AN hopes to reschedule World Congress, which typically draws more than a thousand people, for sometime in the summer.

For what it’s worth, this year’s speaker lineup was to include Cadillac boss Steve Carlisle, former Ford CEO Mark Fields and Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh.

In addition, former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was scheduled to speak via satellite from Lebanon, where he has resided since fleeing prosecution in Japan. This type of virtual participation (sans the legal drama) may soon become the norm.

What’s Next

SAE International’s annual WCX engineering conference in Detroit is scheduled for April 21-23. Noting that conditions are rapidly evolving, SAE says it is committed to prioritizing the health and safety of attendees and will “continue to monitor updates and follow protocols established by all local, state and federal health officials.”

The Detroit auto show, which is moving to mid-June this year, also is at risk. Organizers say they are closely monitoring the situation.

Updates about the virus can be found on the websites for the Centers for Disease Prevention and World Health Organization.

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