A Philippine peace award regarded as an Asian Nobel Prize has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic
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A Philippine peace award has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, marking only the third disruption in six decades for the annual prize regarded as an Asian Nobel.
The Manila-based foundation that hands out the Ramon Magsaysay awards said Tuesday it has no choice “with the COVID-19 pandemic practically immobilizing the world.”
The awards were also cancelled due to a financial crisis in 1970 and a disastrous earthquake in 1990. They are named after a popular Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash and honor “greatness of spirit in selfless service to the peoples of Asia.”
The more than 330 awardees so far had included leaders like late Philippine President Corazon Aquino and Mother Teresa, known for her missionary work in India.
The five recipients of last year’s awards included a South Korean who helped fight suicide and bullying; a Thai woman who became a human rights defender after losing her husband to violence in southern Thailand; journalists from India and Myanmar; and a musician credited with helping to shape modern Philippine musical culture.
The Philippines is a coronavirus hotspot in Southeast Asia, with about 22,400 infections, including more than 1,000 deaths. It has eased lockdowns for millions of people in a tightrope move to bolster its economy, which contracted in the first quarter.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— WHO FINDS PANDEMIC WORSENING: The head of the World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic is worsening. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted Monday that about 75% of cases reported to the U.N. health agency on Sunday came from 10 countries in the Americas and South Asia. Daily case reports have topped 100,000 on nine of the past 10 days. Tedros noted that several countries were seeing positive signs but added: “In these countries, the biggest threat now is complacency.”
— SPECTATORS FOR AUSSIE FOOTBALL: South Australia state will allow 2,000 fans to attend an Australian rules football match on Saturday but won’t allow a Black Lives Matter rally on the same day. South Australia is the first state or territory to allow a crowd to return to professional sport. State Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said spectators will be allowed at a match between local teams Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows. But they wouldn’t grant what would have been a second exemption from social distancing rules for a protest against the death of George Floyd. Stevens said the rally of 5,000 demonstrators last week had been allowed due to unique circumstances but wouldn’t be granted again. “To continually allow people to disregard the restrictions we have in place would make a mockery of the good efforts of everybody else who are doing their best to abide by those restrictions,” Stevens added.
— SOUTH KOREA CASES GROW: South Korea has reported 38 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death, bringing national totals to 11,852 infections and 274 virus-related fatalities. Figures from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday showed 35 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have struggled to trace transmissions linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and low-income workers who couldn’t afford to stay home. At least 1,300 infections have been linked to international arrivals, with around 90% of them being South Koreans who returned home as the virus spread.
— UNGA WON’T MEET IN NEW YORK: The president of the U.N. General Assembly says world leaders will not be coming to New York for their annual gathering in late September for the first time in the 75-year history of the United Nations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Tijjani Muhammad-Bande hopes to announce an alternative for leaders to deliver their usual speeches during the assembly’s so-called General Debate.