IFA Berlin 2021 is canceled, citing ‘uncertainties’ around vaccine rollouts

After IFA became one of an extremely small number of in-person trade shows in 2020, the gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH is pulling the plug on this year’s event. Initially planned for September 3-7 at the Messe in Berlin, the large-scale consumer electronics trade show is going on hiatus.

Among other concerns, organizer are citing the emergency of Covid-19 variants and concerns around the speed and consistency with which vaccines have been rolled out globally.

We planned, hoped and tried to make the impossible possible – and yet had to cancel #IFA2021. We’re #heartbroken, but full of confidence for #IFA2022!#seeyouatIFA2022https://t.co/VzBGNTCvFA pic.twitter.com/ZvM2FCnLv1

— IFA Berlin (@IFA_Berlin) May 19, 2021

“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 rollout of vaccination programmes around the world,” the organization said 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 – all of whom have to plan well ahead with regards to budgets, investments and travel – not just for IFA, but all similar events around the world.”

Another key issue here is the Messe Berlin (convention center) has been – and continues to be – used as both an emergency medical facility and a vaccination center. The planned Berlin Photo Week at ARENA Berlin and SHIFT Mobility events will continue. IFA, meanwhile, is set to return on September 2, 2022.

The news comes as a number of high profile exhibitors have opted not to exhibit in-person at MWC late next month in Barcelona. The list, thus far, includes Qualcomm, Google, IBM, Nokia, Sony, Oracle, Ericsson, Samsung and Lenovo. As with IFA before it, MWC’s organizers are citing a number of safety precautious and likely – given travel restrictions, MIA exhibitors and a general sense of caution even among vaccinated people – a scaled back event.

MWC will be something of a hybrid event, with both online and in-person exhibits. IFA, meanwhile, appears to be canceled outright. The Berlin show is notably different than other consumer trade shows in that it is partially open to the public.