An international journalism festival which was scheduled to hold this April in Perugia, Italy, has been cancelled because of coronavirus.
Nigerian journalists, including the Managing Editor of Premium Times, Idris Akinbajo, were expected to speak at the five-day event which would have attracted journalists from around the world.
“We announce the cancellation of the 2020 International Journalism Festival due to the public health risks caused by COVID-19,” the festival organisers said Saturday in a statement posted on its website.
“We know that this decision will cause inconvenience for many and have negative financial consequences for some but we believe it would be irresponsible to act in any other way given current circumstances.
“The health and safety of festival speakers, attendees, volunteers, staff, suppliers as well as that of the citizens of Perugia is and must remain our top priority,” the statement said.
“We make this announcement today, one month before the start of the festival, because we are convinced that the entire festival community will benefit from an end to the uncertainty. Please note that the festival is being cancelled, not postponed.
“The scenario has changed significantly over the past two or three days. Until the middle of this week we were cautiously optimistic that the festival would go ahead as planned. The rapidly deteriorating public health situation has obliged us to take the decision to cancel.”
The festival is now expected to hold in 2021.
“We hope all those who were intending to participate in the 2020 festival will be able to come to Perugia for the 2021 festival.
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“This is a sad day for the festival but we hope to return even stronger and more united for the 2021 festival and beyond,” the statement.
Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 21, according to a news report by the UK Guardian.
Forty-nine countries, including Nigeria, have confirmed cases of infection. The World Health Organisation says most countries, if not all, are at risk.