CES, one of the world’s biggest technology conferences, will be a virtual event in January due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement is a reversal from May when organisers said it would go on as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas.
It is another blow for Las Vegas which, like all other US tourist destinations, is suffering as people stay at home or go on holiday locally. More than 170,000 people attended the four-day show this year in January, before Covid-19 began to spread across the US.
States in the South and West are being hit particularly hard.
Big news👀— CES (@CES) July 28, 2020
CES 2021 is going all-digital! Get ready for a new immersive experience where you’ll have a front row seat to the action https://t.co/IzmHDpIu1Y
In Nevada over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 27%. The state now ranks sixth in the country for new cases of Covid-19 per capita.
The pandemic has disrupted major tech events everywhere.
Europe’s biggest consumer electronics trade fair, Germany’s IFA, usually runs for six days and drew nearly a quarter of a million people last year. This year, it is half that duration and there will be no public access to the event in September.
Web Summit, a glitzy event in Portugal that features high profile tech CEOs and celebrities, will be online this time. Organisers aim to still hold the physical conference in Lisbon in December but will not make any final decisions until early October.
The Consumer Technology Association, which organises CES, had said in May that it planned to hold some events in Las Vegas next year, but the thinking changed as Covid-19 cases spiked around the world, making it impossible to hold an indoor event in January 2021, said CTA CEO Gary Shapiro.
There was also uncertainty over whether employees of big tech companies would be allowed to travel by then. Google, for example, said this week that its employees should work from home until at least July 2021.
The four-day digital version of the CES gadget show begins on January 6.