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Blame was laid on the spread of a new coronavirus, with no mention of the city's protracted political protests.

Art Basel in Hong Kong (29-31 March 2019). Courtesy Ocula. Photo: Christopher Taylor.

Art Basel has announced the cancellation of its fair in Hong Kong blaming the spread of a new coronavirus. The event was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 19–21 March.

In a press release, they cited several factors for the decision, including: 'fundamental concern for the health and safety of all those working at and attending the fair; the severe logistical challenges facing the build-out and transit of artwork to the show; and the escalating difficulties complicating international travel'.

They made no mention of protracted political protests in the city that had already called the event into question.

Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel said the organisers sought advice from gallerists, collectors, partners and external experts before deciding to cancel the fair.

'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,' he said. 'Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.'

Adeline Ooi, Director Asia, Art Basel said, 'We are deeply grateful to our exhibitors, partners, and friends all over the world, and especially in Hong Kong, who have stood by our side, lent their support, and shared insights and opinions over the past days and months. Our commitment to Asia and Hong Kong has not changed, and we look forward to the 2021 edition.'

This is not the first time that Art Basel has had to cancel a fair. The inaugural edition of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2001 was cancelled in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Organisers said the next edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong will take place 25–27 March, 2021. —[O]

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