The Beijing motor show in April will be postponed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, an official announcement has confirmed.
In a statement posted to the event's website, the show's organisers said: "To ensure the health and safety of exhibitors and participants, we, on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 2020 (16th) Beijing International Automobile Exhibition (Auto China 2020), have decided to postpone the event which was initially scheduled at the new and old venues of China International Exhibition Center (CIEC) in Beijing from April 21 to 30 this year. The rescheduled date will be notified separately."
This latest move follows the postponed Formula 1 race in Shanghai and the cancelled Mobile World Congress technology show in Barcelona.
With travel bans in place, international flights on hold and the streets of Beijing being regularly treated with chemicals in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, the decision makes sense.
When rumours began to circulate of the show's postponement last week, Autocar attempted to contact the organisers in Beijing, including show chairman Wang Xia, but his email address, plus those of two press relations executives, was mysteriously not working, while a fourth executive failed to reply.
Questions to the Paris-based organisation OICA, The International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, under whose umbrella the international motor show circuit is organised, were referred to Beijing. "You need to ask the organisers," we were told.
Postponement of the show will be a blow to a Chinese car industry that's struggling to recover from two successive market drops in 2018 and 2019.
China remains the world's biggest market for new cars, with 22.3 million registered last year. Until 2018, it had enjoyed 20 years of unparalled growth since the last decline in 1997.
The Beijing and Shanghai motor shows have both expanded to become internationally significant, and they alternate on the calendar. Beijing receives around 800,000 visitors each year – about 5500 of them from overseas – and hosts some 1200 exhibitors from 14 regions.
The organisers of next month's Geneva motor show say they are monitoring the situation but their show is going ahead as planned. "So far, there are no cancelations of an exhibitor or a partner," said a spokesperson. "But of course we're analysing the situation and discussing it with our medical advisors."
The Mobile World Congress (MWC), which attracts 100,000 visitors from 200 countries, was officially cancelled last week just ten days before it was due to open on 24 February.
Even though the organisers announced a string of measures to reassure attendees, including a ban on visitors from Hubei province and passport checks for evidence of recent travel to China, major exhibitors started to pull out.
"With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona, MWC is cancelled because of global concern over the coronavirus outbreak," said a statement from MWC.