Circular to all IABS members about the current health situation in South Korea, Feb. 26, 2020

Re: the XIXth Conference of the IABS in the light of the current health situation in South Korea

Dear Members of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Dear Conference Participants, Dear Colleagues,

Allow me to reach out to you about a matter that must have been on the mind of all of you, at the very latest since the spread of the current health crisis to the country that will be hosting the upcoming XIXth Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies: the question if and how this may effect the event most of us have been so much looking forward to this year and in which so many of you are planning to participate. I am writing to update you on the decisions made jointly by the conference’s convener and the IABS Board which are the result of consultations over the last weeks and days and to inform you about the next steps ahead of us.

I would like to confirm that as of now nothing has changed in the plans for holding the conference. Our Korean partners who, relying on the local health authorities, have been monitoring the situation very closely, have confirmed that at this point it is premature to make any predictions about the health situation in the country in August. However, all our colleagues who are involved in the organisation of the event and all of us who are planning to attend will need a go-no-go point in time that will allow us to finalize our logistics as soon as possible. Our Korean colleagues have confirmed that the end of March would be the best time for the IABS Board to reassess the situation and, on the basis of the data available at that point, make a decision as to whether the enduring crisis may compel us to consider postponing the conference by a year. We have obviously not reached that point yet, but the weeks ahead of us will be crucial. Once the IABS Board will have taken a decision in the last week of March, I will again reach out to you, so that you will be able to take the necessary steps without further delay.

I would like to thank all of you, who may have been worrying, for so patiently waiting for a message of this kind from our side. These are important decisions that need to be weighed very carefully and that should be neither delayed nor made in haste. I would particularly like to thank our colleague and convener Professor Eun-su Cho for being both so indefatigable and circumspect in organizing such a big and important event under conditions which are beyond the control of any of us and which pose a challenge larger than any convener should ever have to face.

With warm regards and till soon,
Christoph Emmrich