World welcomes 2020, but celebrations shadowed by wildfires, protests, Korea tensions
January 1, 2020
SYDNEY/HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – The world celebrated the New Year on Wednesday with fireworks displays from Sydney to London, although celebrations were clouded by deadly wildfires in Australia, protests in Hong Kong and India and new nuclear tensions with North Korea. Large crowds gathered in European capitals for spectacular fireworks displays that lit up the skies over landmarks like Big Ben in London, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Parthenon in Athens and the Kremlin in Moscow. In Australia, a million revellers thronged Sydney harbour and nearby districts to watch more than 100,000 fireworks explode above the city, even as thousands of people along the country’s eastern seaboard sought refuge from the bushfires on beaches. Thousands in Hong Kong welcomed 2020 on neon-lit promenades in the picturesque Victoria Harbour, breaking into pro-democracy chants shortly after the countdown to midnight. Hong Kong authorities cancelled the main midnight fireworks display for the first time in a decade, citing security concerns. A “Symphony of Lights” took place instead, involving projections on the city’s tallest skyscrapers, while smaller-scale pyrotechnics were launched from waterfront rooftops. In Japan, people took turns striking Buddhist temple bells, in accordance with tradition Sydney decided to press ahead with its fireworks despite calls by some members of the public for the display to be cancelled in solidarity with fire-hit areas in New South Wales, of which the city is the capital. Sydney Mayor Clover Moore said planning had begun 15 months ago and that the event also gave a boost to the economy.