Taipei, March 18 (CNA) The 2020 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), which had been postponed from February to May due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), has been canceled, the organizer said Wednesday.
The decision to cancel the annual event was because the book fair is a major regional activity that attracts nearly 600,000 people from around 50 countries each year, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
"The fair is a large-scale indoor event where there will be close contact between people" and poses a high risk of spreading the coronavirus, the ministry said.
Also, with many countries, including Taiwan, imposing strict border controls, some international organizations and authors may not be able to come to Taipei for the event, the ministry said.
The 2020 TIBE, which attracted 580,000 visitors last year, was originally scheduled to be held Feb. 4-9 at Taipei World Trade Center. It was postponed in late January to take place May 7-12.
Following the cancellation, those who purchased tickets can get full refunds by May 31 without any charge, and organizations and companies that paid for booths at the fair will get their money back, the organizer said.
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said her ministry will now focus on epidemic prevention and helping those in artistic and cultural circles get through the current challenge.
The ministry will come up with other ways to promote reading and encourage people to purchase books to enjoy as they spend more time at home during the outbreak, Cheng said.
One of the largest international book fairs in Asia, the TIBE was first held at the National Central Library in Taipei in 1987. Since 1990 it has taken place at the Taipei World Trade Center.