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IFA, Europe's big tech show, canceled for 2021 due to COVID concerns

The Berlin trade show will be back in 2022, organizers say.

IFA won't be going ahead this year.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

European tech show IFA won't take place in September as planned due to "global health uncertainties," organizers said Wednesday. The massive show, which under normal circumstances takes place in Berlin each September, is still scheduled to take place as planned in 2022.

IFA, which is Europe's answer to CES, is regularly used as a launchpad for new products by the world's biggest consumer tech companies, including Samsung, Sony and LG. In spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the show did take place last year in a hybrid form, with a number of exhibitors attending in person and others opting to attend virtually.

This year, no such plan is in place, and the event won't go ahead at all.

"Unfortunately, the latest public health developments introduced too much risk into everybody's planning for the event," Kai Hillebrandt, chairman of the supervisory board known as the GFU Consumer & Home Electronics, said in a statement. "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 show."

The decision to cancel the show wasn't taken lightly but in the end was "inevitable," said Martin Ecknig, the CEO of Messe Berlin, the venue where the show is held. The rollout of vaccines and the resumption of international travel haven't happened at the pace that organizers hoped they would.

MWC, Europe's biggest mobile show, is still slated to take place at planned in Barcelona next month, though many large companies will be there only virtually.