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IFA 2021 cancelled due to “global health uncertainties”

There was hope the IFA consumer and home electronics event would take place in-person for 2021, but uncertainty relating to the pandemic has meant the physical event has been cancelled.

Messe Berlin and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH have jointly announced the scheduled IFA 2021 electronics event will not be taking place in a physical capacity, leaving room open that it will – like it did in 2020 – take place as a largely digital event.

In the press release sent out, the organisers stated that “the rapid emergence of new COVID-19 variants, for example in South Asia, to continued uncertainties about the speed of the rollout of vaccination programmes around the world” as reasons for cancelling the physical event, as they were leading to the uncertainty in terms of attendance for those looking to participate.

Another factor is that Messe Berlin, where the IFA event is held, has served as a vaccination centre and an emergency hospital facility; and it would appear the area is “likely to be required for longer than originally anticipated”.

Kai Hillebrandt, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH said: “Innovation needs a platform; it needs the focus of global attention. That’s why brands and manufacturers across the tech industry were very keen to come to IFA Berlin 2021. Unfortunately, the latest public health developments introduced too much risk into everybody’s planning for the event. There simply are now too many uncertainties. Therefore, right now it has become near impossible for anyone to responsibly plan their participation in any trade show.”

Given that IFA takes place at the start of September, it was hoped there would be enough time for the global situation to settle down and recede enough for people to attend. It continues the number of cancellations of public/physical events in 2021, though some are holding out.

MWC (Mobile World Conference) is stated to go ahead even earlier than IFA, from June 28th to the July 1st in Barcelona, and there are no signs yet that the organisers are looking to make that event an all-digital one.

CES 2022 has stated its intentions to be an in-person event next January, though we do wonder whether this announcement has cast doubt on its viability. Given it is seven months away, it’s certainly possible there will be more clarity about attendance at the end of the summer.

IFA will be return in 2022, and it has already staked a date of 2-6 September in Berlin. It’ll be interesting to whether other trade shows due to take place in the before IFA will follow suit and stand down.

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