Shangri-La Dialogue in S'pore cancelled 2 weeks ahead of opening amid rise in Covid-19 cases

The high-profile defence summit has been held every year without fail since 2002, until the pandemic worsened in 2021.

Kayla Wong | May 20, 2021, 04:47 PM

In light of the worsening Covid-19 situation in Singapore, the high-profile defence summit Shangri-La Dialogue will be cancelled, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) announced on Thursday, May 20.

The "responsible course" to take

It was originally slated to be held in Singapore from June 4 to 5.

Previously, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a May 17 statement that the IISS informed the Singapore government that it "remains committed" to organising the event this year.

In a statement released on May 20, MINDEF said the decision was taken in close consultation with the government.

"Although regretful, it is the responsible course, with the health and safety of the local community and participants as the foremost consideration," the ministry added.

Event has to be cancelled considering various factors

IISS, which is the forum's organiser, said is is cancelling the event with "regret and sadness", adding that "a wide range of defence ministers, senior officials and corporate leaders" from around the world have confirmed their attendance.

It reiterated that it believes in the importance of face-to-face diplomacy to "solve global problems", and that it has held successful in-person events, such as the IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain in 2020.

The event will be held again in Nov. 19 to 21, IISS said.

The deteriorating global Covid-19 situation that's partly due to the rise of infectious new Covid-19 variants, the rise in cases within Singapore that required the introduction of new restrictions, as well as the possibility of further tightening, had created uncertainty, the research institute added.

These are the factors that IISS had taken in account when making the decision.

IISS added that the forum has been convened every year since 2002 until this year, when "the pandemic halted [their] efforts".

It also said it will continue to plan its next IISS Fullerton Forum in January. next year, as well as the return of the in-person IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in mid-2022.

Top image via IISS/Facebook