New location announced for World Physiotherapy Congress 2023

World Physiotherapy is committed to delivering an in-person congress in 2023, following a gap of four years since the global physiotherapy profession was able to come together in Geneva in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to people’s personal and professional lives and to planning events, including World Physiotherapy’s decision to move the 2021 congress from an in-person to an online event. 

The World Physiotherapy board and staff team have been carefully planning for the congress in 2023 to manage all risks and plan for a successful event. The board has now made the difficult decision that continuing to plan for an in-person event in Tokyo in 2023 is not possible. A key factor in this decision was that Japan remains closed to international visitors and it is unlikely any site visits would be possible before May 2022. This makes it challenging to plan and confirm arrangements with local stakeholders and contractors for an in-person event in 2023. 

Following careful consideration and discussions with the Japanese Physical Therapy Association (JPTA) and key stakeholders in Japan, the board has made the decision to move the location for the congress in 2023 from Tokyo to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). After discussions with Emirates Physiotherapy Society (EPS) and local stakeholders in UAE, the board believes this will offer the best opportunity to hold an in-person event in 2023. Dubai has remained open to international visitors since July 2020 and has successfully hosted significant international events, including Expo 2020. 

JPTA will host the World Physiotherapy congress in 2025, which will be their 60th anniversary year. 

The board and staff team will now work with the EPS and key stakeholders in Dubai to deliver an in-person congress, 2-4 June 2023. 

Emma Stokes, World Physiotherapy president, said: “We are grateful to the Japanese Physical Therapy Association for their support and flexibility as we have adapted to challenging circumstances and made difficult decisions. 

“We acknowledge that a small number of our member organisations raised some concerns in 2020 about Dubai as the location for our congress in 2021. In the past few years, there have been significant conversations, some within our member organisations, around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. In addition, there have been positive developments in diplomatic relations in the region and significant global participation by over 190 nations in Expo 2020. All of these have provided an opportunity for dialogue around issues raised by our member organisations and their members. 

“We recognise that no location is perfect and acknowledge that some of our member organisations would prefer a different location.

“The board believes changing the location for our congress in 2023 to Dubai offers the best chance for us to bring the global physiotherapy profession together – after a gap of four years. We appreciate how the Emirates Physiotherapy Society has responded with generosity and a warm welcome, to the situation.”

Hideyuki Saito, JPTA president, said: “After correspondence with World Physiotherapy, I understand the present situation and the difficult decision World Physiotherapy has had to make about not holding the congress in Japan in 2023.

"If the congress is held in Japan in 2025, it would coincide with JPTA's 60th anniversary.

"This would be a great opportunity for JPTA to demonstrate our value and advocacy in Japan.

"I look forward to continuing to collaborate with World Physiotherapy."

Naima Saleh, EPS president, said: ““Following the decision by World Physiotherapy to bring the congress to Dubai in 2023, we are excited about the opportunity to host this critical event and grateful for the trust the organisation has put in our ability to host a world-class, impactful congress.

“When Dubai was originally named as the location for the congress in 2021, there was much anticipation in the city and enthusiasm among our colleagues globally. While the impact of COVID-19 meant that event had to move online, we have remained committed to having the opportunity to welcome the physiotherapy community to Dubai to share knowledge, develop professionally and network in person.

“With the support of Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, the Emirates Physiotherapy Society is working closely with stakeholders across the city to plan for another successful congress and ensure that delegates can visit from around the world to experience this destination.”

The format and location for the World Physiotherapy general meeting in 2023 will be confirmed at a later date.

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