IFA 2021 cancelled amid new global health concerns

Messe Berlin and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH have announced that IFA 2021 will not take place in September as a physical event as originally planned and will instead return in 2022.

The decision was made following detailed conversations with public health experts and multiple stakeholders. The companies say that several key global health metrics have not moved as fast in the right direction as they had hoped they would. With new Covid-19 variants rapidly emerging and continued uncertainties about the speed of the vaccination programme rollout around the world were all contributing factors to the cancellation of this year’s show.

These concerns have added uncertainty for the companies that were committed and interested in exhibiting in Berlin, as well as media and other visitors to the show, all of whom have to plan ahead with regards to budgets, investments and travel.

Another consideration was the fact that the Messe Berlin has converted parts of its exhibition area into a vaccination centre and an emergency hospital facility, both now likely to be required for longer than originally anticipated.

“Innovation needs a platform; it needs the focus of global attention,” said Kai Hillebrandt, chairman of the supervisory board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH. “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. 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 shows.”

Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin added: “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 programmes 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.”

Organisers are now working with their industry partners, trade and media to prepare for the show in 2022, which will be planned as a full-scale live event at the Messe Berlin.