The organisers of the IFA technology trade show in Berlin have announced that it will not take place as a physical live event in September this year as originally planned.
In a statement, Messe Berlin and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GMbH said the decision was made following detailed conversations with public health expert and multiple stakeholders.
Ultimately, several key global health metrics did not move as fast in the right direction as had been hoped for – from the rapid emergence of new COVID-19 variants, for example in South Asia, to continued uncertainties about the speed of the roll-out of vaccination programmes around the world, said the organisers.
This, in turn, added uncertainty for the companies that were committed or interested in coming to Berlin, as well as media and visitors – all of whom have to plan well ahead with regards to budgets, investments and travel.
Another consideration was that the main IFA venue, Messe Berlin, has converted part of its exhibition area into a COVID-19 vaccination centre and an emergency hospital, both of which are now likely to be required for longer than originally anticipated.
"Innovation needs a platform; it needs the focus of global attention. That's why brands and manufacturers across the tech industry were very keen to come to IFA Berlin 2021. Unfortunately, the latest public health developments introduced too much risk into everybody's planning for the event," said Kai Hillebrandt, chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH.
"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.”
Added Martin Ecknig, the CEO of Messe Berlin: "We did not take this decision lightly. IFA Berlin is arguably the most important event of the year for brands and retailers alike.
“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 roll-out 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.”
The organisers of IFA are now working with their partners from industry, trade and media to get everything ready for IFA 2022, which will be held as a full-scale live event at the Berlin exhibition grounds.