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ATLANTA-CoreNet Global this week canceled its Toronto Global Summit set for May 3 – 7, citing growing member and sponsor concerns over SARS that were backed up this week by travel advisories issued by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an email note to members, CoreNet President and CEO Peggy Binzel said the decision was made to ensure the health of conference attendees after early reports that the SARS outbreak in Toronto was contained became less reliable in recent days. CoreNet made the decision on Tuesday, after the CDC issued a travel warning for Toronto.

On Wednesday, WHO issued a more stern warning, urging persons planning to travel to Toronto in the next three weeks to postpone their travel. “That would have been the end of it for us if we hadn’t already done it,” CoreNet spokesman Richard Kadzis tells GlobeSt.com.

Kadzis says up through Friday, CoreNet was still receiving more new registrations than cancellations for the event, for which 1,600 people had registered to attend. That turned around drastically starting Monday, says Kadzis, as presenters and attendees began to react to the changing news about SARS in Toronto. Some 200 had cancelled by the time CoreNet officials decided the health risks were too great.

For current registrants, CoreNet is canceling hotel reservations made within the CoreNet block. Room deposits will be credited back to the accounts of these attendees. Those who booked a room outside of the CoreNet block will need to cancel any reservations themselves.

“Over the next week, we will finalize policies resulting from our decision to cancel,” stated Binzel in her email. “We will seek a balanced approach that is both as fair and equitable to you as possible and that also will insure the long-term stability of your organization. We ask for your patience as we formulate our response to this unusual and unpredictable turn of events.”

One option registered attendees have been given is to transfer their Toronto registration to one of several other global summit planned prior to May 2004. They are as follows: July, in Coolum, Australia; September, in Amsterdam; October, in Atlanta; March, in Mumbai, India; and May, in Chicago. Kadzis says most attendees that already have switched their registration have switched it to the Atlanta summit.

It is still unclear how much money the cancellation will cost the organization. “We’re in the middle of a three-to-five day shakeout,” says Kadzis. “I think the hotel and conference center are going to be more flexible than they were a few days ago.”

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