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CES 2021 to be a Virtual Event – Organizers do a Volte Face

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The Consumer Technology Association has done a volte face. After going to town claiming that the next edition of the annual CES would be an in-person event, the organizers have now taken an about turn to suggest that it would be a virtual event. Which means that there would be none of the showbiz that one associates with any event in Las Vegas. 

All the thousands of attendees who throng Nevada each year since CES started its journey way back in 1967 from New York City, would be ensconced this time on the desks as organizers felt it prudent to keep it a virtual event. What does it say about how they view US attempts to tackle Covid-19 as well as those of other countries? Well, that’s a topic for another day. 

Barely a week ago, the CTA had gone to town suggesting that the event would return in all its glory in 2021with chief executive Gary Shapiro now claiming that safety concerns have made it virtually impossible to conduct it out of the virtual world. 

“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,” Shapiro said in a statement that he then took to Twitter to once again share with the world. 

“Moving to an all-digital format for CES is simply the right thing to do. Our exhibitors, partners and thought-leaders will now have the time to plan, to think, to create compelling ways to engage digital audiences from around the world, he continued and claimed that CES had stood the test of time. 

“Like the tech sector itself, CES constantly innovates and evolves. For more than 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation and this is the next stage of our evolution,” he said. It may be recalled that CES 2020 went off as usual though it ended up becoming among the last global events that saw in-person conferences. 

However, there’s worse news coming from the organisers. Unlike the CES main event which will be held virtually, CES Asia put out a statement on its website that CTA is now cancelling it going forward. Which means, there would be no more CES Asia happening. 

“In mid-March, we said we would cancel CES Asia 2020 due to the pandemic. CTA has now decided to cancel CES Asia going forward. We have enjoyed annual growth and success since CES Asia was launched in 2015 in Shanghai. We evaluate our events in light of the changing needs of our industry and the priorities of our members and exhibitors,” the statement said. 

“Given the pandemic, the economy, and our visible role as an American trade association, we have decided to focus on other CES related programs and serving the interests of our industry and how innovation can make all of us healthier, safer and better,” it further said without giving any detailed explanation. 

However, Shapiro ended his statement with the cryptic one-liner which said, “See you at CES 2022.” All that we would say to that is Amen! 

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