FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Last updated: April 14, 2020
MONTREAL (QC), April 14, 2020 – The 105th World Esperanto Congress, scheduled to take place from August 1 to 8, 2020 at the Sheraton Center in Montreal, is postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced the World Esperanto Association on April 11 through a press release to the international Esperanto-speaking community, citing the latest restrictions recently disclosed by the Government of Quebec. The Association had already revealed, during the previous week, that the Congress would be postponed to a later date given the worldwide health situation.
“It is of course regrettable, but protecting the health of all is essential,” said Normand Fleury, chairman of the local committee assisting the World Association in its organizational tasks. “Esperanto speakers from Quebec and Canada were eagerly awaiting this Congress, a unique opportunity to meet the diversity of the world through Esperanto and to present the invaluable cultural contribution of this language to the general public.”
The Congress planned a rich program of conferences, artistic presentations and visits to the region to allow Esperanto speakers from around the world to discover the local culture and history. More than 800 people were already registered in early March, five months before the event. “We are however happy to still be able to welcome participants in two years’ time,” added Mr. Fleury. The 2021 Congress has already been planned since last year to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The first World Esperranto Congress took place in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1905. Until now, only the two world wars had prevented them from taking place. Only one other Congress had been prepared, and could not take place on the scheduled date: that of Paris in 1914, cancelled due to the outbreak of the First World War. As a sign of the times, the Association is planning to hold a fully virtual event this year broadcast worldwide and retaining some of the elements of the classic Congresses.
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Esperanto, with a 133-year tradition, is a constructed language aimed at bringing nations together and respecting linguistic and cultural diversity. First published in 1887 by its initiator, L. L. Zamenhof, originally from Białystok (present-day Poland), it does not belong to any particular people. The World Esperanto Association is an independent organization which aims to promote the knowledge and use of Esperanto around the world. In addition to the organization of its annual World Congress, the World Esperanto Association is notably in official relations with the United Nations and UNESCO.