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Because of the global coronavirus outbreak, international art fair Art Basel has announced that it is cancelling its Hong Kong fair set to take place in late March, one of its largest and most prestigious events.

In a statement, Art Basel cited the cancellation due to the “severe outbreak and spread of the new coronavirus,” a major drawback for art buyers in the region particularly among China’s super-wealthy. The cancellation is also unfortunate for Hong Kong as a whole, after witnessing numerous major sporting and entertainment events pulled out because of political unrest and now a growing health crisis.

MCH Group, the company in charge of Art Basel Hong Kong, CEO Bernd Stadlwieser said it was “an extremely difficult” decision to cancel. “We explored every other possible option, including postponing the fair, and gathered advice and perspectives from many gallerists, partners, and external experts,” Stadlwieser said in a statement. “However, today, we have no other option but to cancel the fair.

However Art Basel said it will remain committed to Hong Kong and will begin planning to host its next edition there in March 2021.

Hong Kong, along with the Philippines, is the only place outside mainland China to have reported the death of a patient infected with novel coronavirus. As of writing, 22 people have tested positive in the city. Mainland China has reported over 600 deaths from 30,000 confirmed infections, with virus specialists warning the real number of carriers is likely to be much higher. Hong Kong has since reduced the flow of mainland Chinese across the border. AFP

Source: Manila Bulletin

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