THE 2020 Royal Melbourne Show has been cancelled today, due to continuing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in particular the social distancing measures and mass gathering restrictions in place.
In a statement released this morning, The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) made the decision to cancel the 2020 Royal Melbourne Show, due to take place in September, in the best interests of public health.
Since 1855 the Royal Melbourne Show has only been called off on two occasions in its 165-year history, the first being when the Melbourne Showgrounds were requisitioned for the war effort in 1915 and again in WWII 1940 to 1945.
RASV chief executive officer Brad Jenkins said the organisation was very disappointed to make this announcement but ensuring the health and safety of the community was paramount.
"The COVID-19 health crisis is unprecedented and the ongoing social distancing measures and mass gathering restrictions mean that in the best interest of public health, we are unable to plan and deliver the 2020 Royal Melbourne Show," he said.
"It was also important to decide on the Royal Melbourne Show now, as many sponsors, exhibitors and competitors spend months preparing for the Show. We also rely on hundreds of volunteers including committees, judges, stewards and more, who give their time so generously each year for the Royal Melbourne Show, many of whom take annual leave or time away from their farm.
"We are fortunate to have an incredibly passionate and supportive community involved in the Royal Melbourne Show each year and during these uncertain times we wanted to give everyone as much notice as possible."
Today's announcement follows the cancellation of the Adelaide Royal, Brisbane Ekka and Sydney Royal Easter Show earlier this year, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Melbourne Show is Victoria's largest and most iconic annual community event, attracting around 450,000 visitors over 11 days each year and contributes more than $244 million in value to the State of Victoria's economy annually.
The RASV is exploring alternative opportunities to present some of the traditional and much-loved elements of the Royal Melbourne Show online in an all-new virtual experience along with creating new events and celebrations to support food and agricultural producers.
"We thank the Victorian community for their support and look forward to bringing everyone together to celebrate the Royal Melbourne Show when it returns bigger and better in 2021 from Thursday 23 September to Sunday 3 October at Melbourne Showgrounds," Mr Jenkins said.