March 17, 2020 / 8:48 PM / 18 days ago

Australia and New Zealand cancels ANZAC Day events due to virus

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a joint press conference held with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand and Australia has cancelled joint ANZAC Day services at Gallipoli this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said on Wednesday.

The cancellation covers the ANZAC Dawn Service, the Australian Lone Pine Service and the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair, New Zealand said in a statement.

ANZAC Day commemorates the bloody battle on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey during World War One. On April 25, 1915, thousands of troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were among a larger Allied force that landed on the Gallipoli peninsula, an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.

While the Gallipoli campaign against the Turks failed, the landing date of April 25 has become a major day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for their troops killed in all military conflicts.

Turkish authorities who host the events have been advised of the cancellation. The Gallipoli ANZAC Day services are jointly organised by Australia and New Zealand.

“The Gallipoli services in particular have become a pilgrimage of sorts for many New Zealanders. But with global travel restrictions and isolation requirements in place in most countries it is simply not practical to hold this year’s event,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in the statement.

Australia and New Zealand have banned big gatherings in the country and this week asked their citizens currently travelling overseas to consider returning home while commercial travel options remain available.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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