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Berlin's IFA consumer tech fair cancelled as coronavirus lingers

By Reuters

(Corrects spelling of name of Messe Berlin CEO)

BERLIN (Reuters) – Organisers on Wednesday called off this year’s IFA consumer technology trade fair in Berlin, saying the lingering coronavirus pandemic had made it impossible to organise an in-person event.

The September show traditionally kicks off the year-end shopping season with global brands showcasing the latest smartphones, flat-screen TVs and voice-activated digital home assistants to as many as 240,000 visitors.

Last year, IFA staged a limited event for the trade and media only but, with the halls of Berlin’s sprawling trade fair grounds only sparsely populated, any sense of excitement was lacking.

Rather than risk another flop, organisers chose to call off this year’s show a few months ahead of time. Next year’s event will be held on Sept. 2-6, 2022.

“Containing the global pandemic, including the introduction of vaccination programs, as well as the resumption of international travel, did not take place at the hoped-for pace,” said Martin Ecknig, CEO of hosts Messe Berlin.

“In view of this development, this difficult and disappointing decision was inevitable.”

The Mobile World Congress, another big trade fair, pushed back this year’s gathering in Barcelona to the end of June after cancelling last year’s show. Several exhibitors have said, however, that they will only take part online.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Thomas Escritt)