Kia ora koutou
It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of the 22nd World Congress of the IAHR which was to have been held in Otago, New Zealand.
Following our previous update on 10 March, we have continued to monitor the situation which (as we are sure you are all aware) has only become worse almost everywhere. Today, New Zealand has entered a period of total lockdown – no-one is permitted to leave their home except to fetch essential items of food and fuel, or for short walks in their neighbourhood. The borders are closed to all but New Zealand citizens, residents and their immediate family members.
The hope, of course, is that such a lockdown will eliminate the virus within New Zealand and allow a return to normal life. But there can be no certainty that this will succeed. Even (or perhaps especially) if New Zealand is successful in eliminating the virus here, there will continue to be tight restrictions on who can travel to New Zealand. It is already clear that we cannot possibly meet in August. We have considered a long postponement, but for many of us (including the local organisers) the first priority in the coming months will be providing teaching to our students in order to minimize the impact on their education. It is not at all clear even when we might begin to be able to plan with any certainty for a large international gathering in the near future. We have also considered also the possibility of holding a virtual Congress online, but New Zealand’s time zone and limited IT infrastructure means that we are not well-placed to do so.
We will contact separately those who have already registered for the Congress, to make arrangements to refund registration, accommodation and excursion fees paid in advance. In the current environment (everyone in New Zealand working from home) this may take a little while and we ask again for your patience.
The Executive Committee of the IAHR will make a further announcement about the consequences of the cancellation for the business meetings of the IAHR that would have been conducted in New Zealand.
We would like to extend our thanks to all those who submitted abstracts. We thank also the academic programme committee who reviewed the abstracts and to the many others who supported the Congress in different way, and in particular the officers of the IAHR Executive Committee. We look forward to meeting again in happier times!
Will Sweetman and Satoko Fujiwara
on behalf of the organising committee