All International Anzac Day Services Cancelled Over Coronavirus Restrictions
The government has cancelled all international, Australian-led Anzac Day services for 2020.
Hosted on April 25 each year, Anzac Day in Gallipoli is the biggest overseas commemoration event organised by Australia and New Zealand.
Thousands of veterans and their families head to Turkey each Anzac Day to pay respect to over 75,000 men who served at Gallipoli and the 10,000 or more who lost their lives.
Veteran Affairs Minister Darren Chester told the ABC the federal government cancelled the events over concerns of hosting mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is with some regret that I can confirm we have decided to cancel all the Australian-led international Anzac Day events for 2020.
"Why I say it was with regret, it was a difficult decision, yet again it was an easy decision. Difficult because we didn't want to do it, but easy because it's the right thing to do," Chester said.
Chester said cancelling the overseas events would protect elderly veterans and limit the spread of the virus.
"Obviously these commemorative activities, particularly Anzac Day, attract the cohort of some of the older citizens, a lot of our veterans now, World War II veterans who are approaching 95, 100 years of age. We didn't want to expose them to those conditions."
We simply couldn't be having large gatherings of 500 or 1,000 people on Anzac Day on foreign soil this year.
Inside Australia, Anzac Day services have been cancelled in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia after the federal government banned mass gatherings of more than 500 people.
This year services will not involve large gatherings of people but will take place in alternatives ways, such as through live-stream events, Chester said.
"We'll have to make sure we're providing opportunities for people to still respect our veterans but unfortunately it won't be those large public gatherings we have seen in the past."
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