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SARS Kills CommunicAsia

The organizers of Singapore’s CommunicAsia 2003 -- arguably Asia’s biggest annual telecom exhibition -- have been forced to pull the plug on next month’s event due to concerns over the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Its sister event, BroadcastAsia 2003, has also been killed.

“This has been a very difficult decision borne out of necessity due to the SARS outbreak and the lack of options for a suitable timeframe in which to reschedule the events,” says Stephen Tan, chief executive of Singapore Exhibition Services.

CommunicAsia, scheduled for June 17-20 this year, has become a popular showcase for the launch of new products in the advanced Asian wireless market. Last year’s event attracted an impressive 1,450 exhibitors and 37,000 visitors.

The organizers state that the event cannot be rescheduled for later this year due to the large number of competing global events already planned, such as ITU Telecom World 2003. “This is the most expensive option open to us, but we see this as a long-term business decision,” adds Tan. Coincidentally, the ITU’s show is having major problems of its own, with many big names opting out of the visit to Geneva (see Telecom 2003 Trembles).

Earlier this week Unstrung reported that the outbreak of SARS could be a factor in the poor turnout at Networld+Interop in Las Vegas (see N+I: Seeing SARS?).

The latest figures from the World Health Organization state that a cumulative total of 5,663 probable SARS cases have been reported, with 372 deaths in 26 countries.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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