With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, WHO has declared a world health emergency. And following the horror of this rapidly spreading epidemic, many organizers have reconsidered whether it’s safe to host tech shows and conferences at a time like this.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you avoid being in crowds to avoid the risk of getting COVID-19. They also advise sanitizing and washing hands frequently, avoiding sick people, and staying home when you feel unwell. However, in big shows and conferences, crowds are inevitable. And so, it further increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Even though some countries do not have cases of COVID-19 (yet), it is still a threat to global health. Many trade shows and conferences have already been canceled out of caution. Mobile World Congress (MWC), which was supposed to be held in late February, was canceled after big companies like Samsung, AT&T, Sony, Qualcomm, Facebook, Nvidia backed off following the coronavirus outbreak.
So, other major organizers are deciding whether they should hold their events and releases or cancel it until COVID-19 gets contained.
Here’s a list of all the events of 2020 and their status — what’s gone and what’s still on!
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (February 24-27)
GSMA canceled the MWC 2020 after many big companies backed off from the event.
Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco (March 9-12)
The fast-spreading virus is driving horrors to every part of the world, and Facebook is no exception. Recently, they had to cancel their Global Marketing Summit “out of an abundance of caution.” With their initiative to shun misinformation about coronavirus in their platform, it was only obvious that they would cancel the event sooner or later.
Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California (March 16-20)
Major companies, including Microsoft, Epic, Unity, Facebook, Sony, Amazon, and Blizzard, have canceled their appearances. And recently, they have decided to postpone the event indefinitely.
Google News Initiative Global Summit in Sunnyvale, California (late April)
After a Google employee in Switzerland was confirmed with the ever-spreading epidemic, Google had no choice but to cancel this event. They further went on to say that they prioritize their employees and public health.
Facebook F8 in San Jose, California (May 5-6)
Due to coronavirus concerns, Facebook called off their annual conference Facebook F8. They wanted to prioritize the health of their employees, developer partner, and everyone who takes part in the conference. Also, they are doing an online session of the event.
Shopify’s developer conference, Unite, in Toronto (May 6-8)
The organizers had to scrap this event due to public health concerns regarding coronavirus. Shopify said in a tweet that only the “in-person element” is canceled. However, they did not reveal whether the event will take place digitally or in some other form.
Events That Are Still On
SXSW in Austin, Texas (March 13 – March 22)
Even though there has been “a handful of cancelations,” the show is “proceeding as planned.” Further, the event has put a FAQ section on their website for safety regarding COVID-19 concerns.
However, more than 6000 people have signed a petition asking the SXSW to be called off. The petition asks the event to “think about all the people who could die of this.”
Update: SXSW has been called off. They even had to lay off 1/3 of its employees, approximately 175 full-time workers as a ‘heartbreaking’, but necessary step.
Nvidia GPU Technology Conference (GTC), San Jose (March 22-26)
GTC has no news of being canceled whatsoever. They have listed various precautions to combat the risk of the coronavirus. Moreover, they have encouraged sick people to stay home and watch videotaped sessions instead.
Google I/O, San Jose (May 12-14)
The event is still up in May. They did make an FAQ page and declared that they would allow registrants to cancel their registration without a financial penalty till April 15, 2020. At the time, Google is accepting registrants from all over the world.
Microsoft Build, Seattle (May 19-21)
The Microsoft Build Conference is going on as scheduled. They did declare that they will make further decisions based on the situation. But as of now, the schedule remains the same.
Computex in Taipei, Taiwan (June 2-6)
Computex is probably the biggest tech show in Asia, and as of now, it is still happening. They also posted a message regarding the concerns with COVID-19, stating their client’s health is of utmost priority. Further, they assured of taking various measures such as making masks compulsory, checking for fever, and having sanitizers in public areas.
Worldwide Developers Conference, San Jose (June 3-7)
As of now, the event is still on for June. Apple does make a confirmation in mid to late March so that it could change from yay to nay any minute.
E3 in Los Angeles, California (June 9-11)
Electronic Entertainment Expo, aka E3, is still happening in June. The premier event is mostly dedicated to computer and video games. So, gaming enthusiasts might be disheartened if it gets canceled. But so far, the event is happening.
Gamescom in Cologne, Germany (August 25-29)
Europe’s most prominent digital game trade show, Gamescom, is still on.
IFA in Berlin, Germany (September 4-9)
Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) is still scheduled for early September.
The biggest tech shows and events that were canceled are only a beginning if the coronavirus doesn’t get contained. And looking at the situation now, it is far from over. Most of these shows are more likely to be taken off at some point. In the end, safety and health matter more than anything, right?
Coronavirus is a threat, with over 89,000 people infected in at least 65 countries. It has slowed down the production of LCD, resulting in a price hike as well.
COMMENT on what you think about the cancellation of these shows? Which shows were/are you looking the most forward to?