Prominent executives have stepped away from attendance at the World Economic Forum 2009 in Davos, Switzerland which kicks off Wednesday, citing illness, the need to deal with pressing matters, or just avoiding the spotlight under tough economic circumstances.

The latest to cancel appearances on Tuesday were Barclays Plc’s president Robert E. Diamond and chief executive Frits Seegers. They will not be attending because they will be working on the publication of the bank’s 2008 results on Feb. 9, week ahead of the previously scheduled Feb. 17 release, the Wall Street Journal reported.

New York governor David Paterson who was scheduled to speak at Davos, canceled his trip, saying he wanted to focus on the city's budget, according to the New York Daily News today.

Citigroup Inc. CEO Vikram Pandit,and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein will not attend this year's forum.

Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain -- who resigned the past week from Bank of America and is in the midst of a bonus payment scandal in the U.S. -- was forced to pull out according to the Journal.

Axel Weber, the governor of Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, is sick, his spokesman told the paper, while Fedex Corp. president Michael Ducker will be absent for family reasons.