New Delhi: The Indian Navy has postponed its largest-ever multilateral naval exercise, Milan, involving over 30 countries due to the coronavirus threat.
The exercise from 18 to 28 March has been postponed taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19 (the coronavirus strain), the Navy said in a statement Tuesday.
The Navy looks forward to scheduling Milan at a later convenient date, the statement added.
Forty two countries, including the US and Russia, were invited for the exercise which was to be held off the coast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The theme for Milan this year was ‘Synergy Across the Seas’.
Over a dozen foreign warships were expected to take part in the exercise, along with delegations from about 20 other nations, said sources in the Navy.
While most of the major navies in the world were invited to the exercise, Pakistan, China and Turkey were not, added the sources.
From a modest beginning in 1995 with the participation of four littoral navies off the Andaman coast, Milan has grown over the years. In the last edition held in 2018, 17 countries had participated.
Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh had said last month that Milan 2020 includes a wider array of exercises at sea in multinational groupings with seamanship drills, simulation of complex operational scenarios, tactical manoeuvres and others.
Other affected events
Milan is not the only big event to be affected due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Japan’s Olympic minister Tuesday said the Tokyo 2020 Games could be postponed from summer until later in the year amid fears, according to a BBC report.
The virus has infected over 90,000 people across 73 countries and territories as of Monday.
Since it was first identified in December last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that public health officials are operating in “uncharted territory” as they combat the outbreak, CNN reported.
Apart from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy are facing the most severe outbreaks, said the CNN report.
India has at least six confirmed coronavirus cases so far.
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