Geneva car show, Basel watch fair cancelled
As the coronavirus looms large in Europe, both the events have been rescheduled as a precautionary measure
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Two of Switzerland’s largest trade fairs fell victim to the coronavirus epidemic, with organizers of the Geneva International Motor Show and the Baselworld watch fair pulling the plug on this year’s salons as the outbreak spreads in Europe.
The car show, which was to start on 2 March, was cancelled as a force majeure after the Swiss government barred large gatherings, the organizers said in a statement. Separately, the organizers of Baselworld said this year’s event, planned to start in April, is being postponed until 2021.
The virus reached Switzerland in the last week of February and neighbouring Italy reported hundreds of cases. Bloomberg News reported earlier the car show was called off.
“The financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks," car show’s organizers said. Exhibitors will start dismantling stands and tickets for the event will be refunded.
The expo is among the automotive sector’s glitziest, with a high proportion of luxury and sports models on display, and organizer Palexpo SA had been pushing ahead with plans. Earlier this week it pledged to step up hygiene and health warnings and urged participants to screen staff for symptoms.
The next Baselworld show will take place in January and February, MCH Group, the organizer of the Swiss watchmakers’ trade fair, said in a statement. Shares of the company were suspended ahead of the announcement. They dropped 14% in the last week of February.
The viral outbreak that began in China has spread to 52 countries and territories, with Italian cases centered on northern provinces that border Switzerland. Geneva, home to the World Health Organization, which is fighting the epidemic, is a 3-hour drive from Turin, where Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has an operational base.
German manufacturers Daimler AG and Audi AG said they supported the decision to cancel the show.
The luxury-watch industry’s Watches & Wonders Geneva, planned for April, has also been cancelled.
The motor show joins high-profile casualties of the virus, including the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest annual showcase for the telecoms sector, scrapped after a succession of tech giants from Ericsson AB to Sony Corp. to LG Electronics Inc. pulled out citing concerns around the virus.
A car show in Beijing scheduled for April has also been postponed, while the Singapore Airshow went ahead earlier this month in front of sparse crowds and with scores of companies steering clear as the virus spread beyond China.
Executives from carmakers spanning Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG to Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. were due to attend the Geneva show, which spans 10 days and was first staged in 1905. The expo was last cancelled during World War II and its aftermath.