WADA cancels 2020 Annual Symposium in light of Coronavirus

As the current outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) continues to develop, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regrets to announce the cancellation of the Agency’s Annual Symposium and related Athlete Session that were to be held at the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne, Switzerland on 17-18 and 19 March 2020 respectively. 

WADA took this decision based on the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health’s (FOPH’s) announcement today banning large-scale gatherings of more than 1,000 people in Switzerland until 15 March 2020.

WADA President Witold Banka said: “WADA is disappointed to announce the cancellation of its Annual Symposium, which has become the annual event for anti-doping practitioners. It was a difficult decision as the event attracts almost 1,000 participants from around the world every year; however, it was necessary to ensure the health and safety of the Agency’s staff and stakeholder community. The Agency commits to ensuring that most of the elements of the Symposium program are delivered via alternative means over the coming weeks and months.”

The Symposium, which was to be delivered under the theme “Bringing the 2021 Code and Standards into Action”, was primarily aimed at assisting World Anti-Doping Code (Code) Signatories in their adjustment to, and implementation of, the 2021 Code and International Standards, which will enter into force on 1 January 2021. WADA is confident that, over the coming weeks and months, it will be able to complement its previously announced 2021 Code Implementation Support Program (CISP) to include the elements of the Symposium program via webinars and other channels. The CISP is being developed in coordination with Code Signatories and other partners through 2020.

It should be noted that WADA is reaching out separately to Symposium participants and other stakeholders that are impacted by this cancellation. WADA regrets any inconvenience that this necessary decision may cause to those impacted.

As it relates to the Coronavirus, WADA will continue monitoring the situation based on expert information from the World Health Organization and will put other measures in place as needed related to staff and stakeholder travel connected to the Agency’s mission.