As China struggles to contain the deadly coronavirus, and World Health Organization (WHO) declares a global public health emergency, Art Basel cancels this years edition of its Hong Kong fair. The pneumonia-like illness keeps spreading and, to date, 565 people have died in China and more than 28,000 have contracted the virus since the first cases of the virus were confirmed in Wuhan, China, on December 31. The virus has reached other parts of Asia such as Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, as well as Australia, Canada and parts of Europe, France and Germany.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak around the world,” said Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, in a statement. “The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so, gathering advice and perspectives from many gallerists, collectors, partners and external experts. We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and across the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”