CES 2021 cancels physical Las Vegas tech conference and moves to digital format next year

The world's largest tech conference, CES, announced on Tuesday that it is going all-digital for 2021.

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Image: David McNew/Getty Images

CES 2021 will be an all-digital event on January 6-9 next year due to the ever-increasing global health threat of COVID-19. The tech conference is normally held in Las Vegas in early January with tens of thousands of people typically attending the event from countries all over the world. CES 2021 was originally scheduled to take place from January 7-10 in Las Vegas.

"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, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in a press release on Tuesday. "Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic—and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way. By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences." 

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In 2021, CES will offer online media events, a product showcase, keynotes and conferences and meetings and networking.

This year, 171,268 people attended CES 2020. There were 175,212 people at CES 2019, compared to 182,198 for CES 2018 and 184,279 for CES 2017. As an example of the international draw, in 2019, there were 61,230 international visitors from 161 countries, regions and territories. This made up 34.9% of CES 2019 attendance, and that would have been severely limited in 2021 with international travel highly regulated during the coronavirus pandemic.

CES Asia has also been permanently cancelled. CTA announced in mid-March that it would cancel CES Asia 2020 due to the pandemic and later said in a statement on its website, "CTA has now decided to cancel CES Asia going forward. We have enjoyed annual growth and success since CES Asia was launched in 2015 in Shanghai. We evaluate our events in light of the changing needs of our industry and the priorities of our members and exhibitors."

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