IFA tech trade show cancelled over ongoing Covid-19 ‘uncertainties’

One of Europe’s largest annual technology shows has cancelled its plans to hold an in-person event this year because of ongoing “uncertainties” around Covid-19.

The IFA trade show is normally held in Berlin each year and attracts around 200,000 visitors across its four days.

A scaled-down version of the convention took place in 2020 and mostly online, but plans to hold an in-person show in 2021 have been called off, with organisers confirming the event will instead return in 2022.

Messe Berlin, which hosts the event, and organisers gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH said the pace of global vaccine rollouts and the resumption of international travel had not happened as quickly as they had hoped, while concerns also remained over the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

“Unfortunately, the latest public health developments introduced too much risk into everybody’s planning for the event,” chairman of the organiser’s supervisory board Kai Hillebrandt said.

“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.”

A number of other major technology events have either postponed their conferences or moved entirely online during the pandemic, including Apple’s launch of the iPhone 12 last year and trade show CES.

“We did not take this decision lightly. IFA Berlin is arguably the most important event of the year for brands and retailers alike,” Messe Berlin chief executive Martin Ecknig said.

“IFA Berlin connects our industry with trade visitors, media and real consumers like no other event. However, the health and safety of everybody has to be absolutely paramount.

“The efforts to contain this pandemic – from the rollout of vaccination programs to the resumption of international travel – did not happen at the pace we had hoped for. Given these developments, this difficult and disappointing decision was inevitable.”

IFA said it hoped the show would return as a “full-scale live event” in 2022.

Another annual technology trade show, Mobile World Congress (MWC) still plans to go ahead with reduced visitor numbers in Barcelona in June.

Organisers there have insisted they will have robust health and safety measures in place, including regular testing and daily temperature checks for all attendees, alongside social distancing, increased ventilation and other measures.