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Balikatan 2020 Exercise Cancelled Over Coronavirus Concerns

FILE - Amphibious Assault Vehicles, carrying American and Philippine troops, are seen on a beach during "Balikatan 2019" exercices, April 11, 2019, off San Antonio, Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has canceled Exercise Balikatan 2020 over concerns of the coronavirus spread.

Balikatan is an annual military exercise between the Philippines and the U.S. in which Australia also participates.

In a statement on Friday, the command said that made the decision “due to concerns for the health and safety of the participating exercise forces and local populations near the planned exercise areas.”

The exercise was scheduled to take place in the Philippines May 4-15.

“In light of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and in the best interest of the health and safety of both countries’ forces, it is prudent to cancel Balikatan 2020,” Adm. Phil Davidson, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said.

The cancellation follows international travel restrictions implemented by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Philippines in response to the coronavirus outbreak.