Messe Berlin and GFU Consumer & Home Electronics have jointly announced that IFA 2021 will no longer be taking place in September as a physical live event.
The organisers said that the decision was made following detailed conversations with public health experts and multiple stakeholders, and that ultimately, several key global health metrics were not moving as fast in the right direction as had been hoped, from the rapid emergence of new COVID-19 variants, to continued uncertainties about the speed of the rollout of vaccination programmes around the world.
In turn, they added, this has been adding uncertainty for the companies that were committed or interested in going to Berlin, as well as media and visitors. Another consideration has been the fact that Messe Berlin is continuing to support the fight against COVID-19 by converting parts of its exhibition area into a vaccination centre and an emergency hospital facility, and both are now likely to be required for longer than originally anticipated.
"We did not take this decision lightly," said Martin Ecknig, the CEO of Messe Berlin. "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 programs 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," he added.
The organisers of IFA are now said to be working to get everything ready for IFA 2022, which is being planned as a full-scale live event at the Berlin exhibition grounds.