The giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which draws tens of thousands of marketers, tech enthusiasts and reporters each year to Las Vegas, has become the latest victim of the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
The CES said on Tuesday (July 28) that it is canceling plans to hold its annual show in Las Vegas in early January and will now move the entire event online.
While the show will go on as planned on Jan. 6-9, it will be an “all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world,” the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced in a press release.
At its last event this past January in Las Vegas, the CES drew more than 171,000 attendees, 4,419 exhibitors and 6,517 members of the media, according to the CTA.
“Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, in a press statement.
The announcement marks a reversal for the CTA, which this spring posted plans on its website indicating that the show would go on – in-person – this coming January in Sin City. As part of its efforts to keep attendees safe, the CTA said it would beef up cleaning efforts, set up “sanitation stations,” provide on-site healthcare services, and increase the space between seats and aisles to encourage social distancing.
But coronavirus infection rates have since soared across the country, with Nevada reporting 1,000 new cases on Monday (July 27). There have also been reports that 123 visitors to Nevada later tested positive after returning to their home states.
Still, organizers of the big consumer technology show are promising the same whiz-bang experience as always, just online.
“Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic – and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way,” said Shapiro. “By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences."