CES 2021 cancels physical event amid COVID-19 concerns, will go all-digital

After teasing the idea of a socially-distanced physical gathering next year, CES 2021 will instead pivot to an all-digital event due to issues with COVID-19.


When the organization behind the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 announced that the event was still going to be a physical gathering despite a host of concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it left many worried, even with special precautions announced. However, more than month later, the organization has changed its mind. CES 2021’s physical event has officially been canceled and it will instead shift over to an all-digital format.

The organization behind CES announced its decision regarding the 2021 physical event and all-digital shift in a website blog posted on July 28, 2020. In the blog, CES 2021 organized recognized the threat the COVID-19 pandemic still poses and admitted it would difficult, if not impossible, to take enough precautions to keep everyone safe at a show that has previously hosted around 170,000 attendees from over 160 nations.

“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,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) which organizes and hosts CES in Vegas each year.

Though original plans for CES 2021 featured social-distancing and other precautionary measures, it seemed less than feasible given the magnitude of the event.
Though original plans for CES 2021 featured social-distancing and other precautionary measures, the reality seemed bleak against ongoing coronavirus concerns

Indeed, the initial push for CES 2021 to remain a physical event was one that left many alarmed. Despite the promised safeguards that would be put in place, including hand sanitizer stations, socially-distanced markers, and further precautions, the sheer magnitude of the event made the actual execution sound troubling to say the least. It was especially concerning considering CES 2020 may have been a contributor to the spread of the coronavirus before anyone understood just how serious it was.

With that said, it’s a relief to know the CTA recognizes the dangers and difficulty imposed by such an event - or perhaps it realized that with travel restrictions in place, it’s just not feasible. But regardless, an all-digital CES 2021 looks to be an acceptable solution given the circumstances. Stay tuned for details and information on the all-digital CES 2021 as they become available.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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