IFA 2021 is canceled after all

COVID-19 has put a kibosh on the optimistic "full-scale return."

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BERLIN, Sept. 3, 2020  -- Photo taken on Sept. 3, 2020 shows the entrance of the 2020 IFA fair in Berlin, capital of Germany. The technology trade fair IFA kicked off here on Thursday in a scaled-back format due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Shan Yuqi/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi via Getty Images)
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

After organizers announced a "full-scale return" last month, IFA 2021 in Berlin has been canceled as physical live event due to COVID-19 health concerns. Last year, it was held in a limited way, but coronavirus infection figures in Germany and elsewhere are much higher now than they were at this time last year. 

"Ultimately, several key global health metrics did not move as fast in the right direction as had been hoped for," IFA stated in a press release. "This in turn is adding uncertainty for the companies that were committed or interested in coming to Berlin, as well as media and visitors." Organizers also cited uncertainties about vaccination rates and new COVID-19 variants appearing around the world. 

It was surprising when organizers announced that IFA 2021 would take place at all, let alone as a full-scale event. At that point in mid-April, coronavirus cases in Germany were near a peak of over 20,000 new infections per day on average, compared to 3,000 new cases in 2020 at the same time.

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The news raises question about the viability of MWC 2021 in Barcelona. A number of companies including Oracle, Sony, Nokia and Ericsson had already dropped out in March, and Samsung recently said it wouldn't attend either. On top of all that, the US embassy told attendees that they wouldn't be allowed entry into the country unless they meet “very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the Government of Spain.” The event is still set to take place starting on June 28th — for now. 

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