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March of the Living postponed in Poland over COVID-19 concerns

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The annual March of the Living commemoration in Europe, a tribute to those lost in the Holocaust, has been postponed amid worries about the novel coronavirus that has resulted in close to 110,000 cases worldwide as of Sunday.

Scheduled for April, the 3.2-kilometre route covers the railroad tracks from Auschwitz to Birkenau, and has taken place “without interruption” every year since 1988, the organization said in a statement Sunday.

Organizers made the difficult decision to postpone the event — considered the largest annual international Holocaust education program, with 110 delegations from across the globe — after consulting with health officials.

“It is with a heavy heart that we are forced to announce the postponement of this year’s March of the Living in Poland,” said event chair Dr. Shmuel Rosenman in the statement.

“Our primary concern is the health of the many participants and the Holocaust survivors who would be joining them.”

Poland has so far seen six confirmed cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s March 8 situation report.

The organization has decided to launch a campaign called “Never Means Never,” in the hopes of urging young people to fight antisemitism and racism.

“Even if we are not able to be in Poland, we remain thoroughly committed to our values and our historic role,” Rosenman said.

Meanwhile, arrangements are in the works for a march later this year in Poland.

According to March of the Living, more than 10,000 young people from 40 different countries, including Canada and the U.S., take part in the march every year, accompanied by Holocaust survivors. Overall, more than 300,000 people from 52 countries have walked the route since 1988.

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