Updated: March 11, 2020 06:14 PM
Created: March 11, 2020 12:53 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The organizers of the Gathering of Nations are asking for an apology from the governor's office after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the mega-event would be canceled amid coronavirus concerns.
Organizers say that no one from the Gathering of Nations was contacted by the governor's office prior to the announcement. Gov. Lujan Grisham made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday morning announcing the first "presumptive positive" cases of coronavirus in New Mexico.
"We are proactively and aggressively canceling large public events that we have control over and we are advising strongly that local government and the private sector follow suit," Gov. Lujan Grisham said. "The Gathering of Nations is hereby postponed because what we want to do is minimize the out-of-state travelers who can have been exposed in a number of ways from coming into the state and then exposing each other and other New Mexicans."
Organizers said the move was very disrespectful. Gathering of Nations is the largest event of its kind in North America.
The event draws over 80,000 people together and is possible because of a staff of 10,000 people. They are planning to do an online experience in order to produce some portions of the annual event.
The governor's office released the following statement after hearing about the allegations that she was not in contact with officials with the Gathering of Nations:
"The governor's office absolutely was in touch with Gathering of Nations organizers before her press conference today, and to say otherwise is unfortunately disingenuine. Derek Mathews, Gathering of Nations Limited director, was not only understanding, he encouraged the governor to make the call to cancel events at state facilities, including postponing the Gathering of Nations at EXPO New Mexico, because he understood the importance of prioritizing public health.”
To reiterate, the governor does not take this decision lightly – but public health considerations are paramount, and this was done out of an abundance of caution."
Gathering of Nations brings in more than 80,000 people every year. Was scheduled for April 23-25. It has been postponed. Organizers are very upset they were not given a heads up from the governor before she made the announcement to cancel their event. @KOB4 pic.twitter.com/GmrAa2WfXr— Megan Abundis (@meganrabundis) March 11, 2020
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