This year's edition of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants has been switched from a live gathering to an online awards ceremony. The glitzy event is the latest casualty of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Organizers from Asia's 50 Best Restaurants reached this decision in conjunction with The Governor of Saga Prefecture, where the awards were to take place. A diverse program of events – including #50BestTalks and gastronomic gatherings – were scheduled on the island of Kyushu in the lead up to the main event.
In addition to health and safety concerns, travel restrictions and the Japanese government's advice to limit large-scale events were cited as considerations for canceling the on-site gathering.
Saga Prefecture is known for its seafood, traditional artisanship, bountiful produce and rural landscape. These events typically shine a light on the restaurants and hospitality services in the host region, so this change is quite a blow to Saga. Charles Reed, CEO of William Reed says, “we are extremely grateful to our host destination partners in Saga for their efforts in preparing to welcome the gastronomic community to their unique and beautiful region. We aim to facilitate further opportunities for chefs, partners and media to experience the wonderful food, culture and landscape of Saga in the future.”
Instead, 50 Best is working on putting together a live-streamed ceremony at the same level as their typical events. We can also expect special awards to be announced before the official announcement of the annual ranking on March 24, 2020.
Mass gatherings worldwide have been affected by the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This includes Madrid's Mobile World Congress, Shanghai's F1 Grand Prix, the Hong Kong and Singapore rounds of the Rugby Sevens and more. UK rapper Stormzy is one of many international music acts that have either canceled or rescheduled Asia tours.
Set to open on July 24, plans are currently still underway for the Tokyo Olympics.
[cover image courtesy Asia's 50 Best Restaurants]