Consumer Technology Association: “CES will and must go on”
Amid rising COVID rates, big companies are exiting Arlington group's annual tech show
The Arlington-based Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is moving forward with its CES consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas in January, despite cancelations from big exhibitors and the surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant.
Formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, CES typically draws thousands of exhibitors and more than 150,000 attendees. The annual trade show — which hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry — has been held for the past 50 years and is one of the largest in the world.
The 2021 CES was fully virtual, but this year’s CES, which is set to be held Jan. 5 to Jan. 8, will feature a hybrid mix of digital and in-person events.
Big-name participants such as Amazon.com Inc., Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and Twitter Inc. have pulled out of the in-person event, according to The Wall Street Journal. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert was set to offer the keynote speech, but he has withdrawn, and others from his company will not travel to Las Vegas, the mobile communications provider said in a news release.
“We know several major companies have reduced their physical presence at CES 2022 and we understand their concerns,” wrote Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, in a Dec. 24 statement on LinkedIn. “They want to protect their employees from COVID-19 and the risk of having to quarantine in Las Vegas. Our staff raised this issue with me, and I told employees that anyone with concerns would not be required to travel to Las Vegas.”
More than 2,200 exhibitors are confirmed for this year’s CES, according to CTA, which represents more than 2,200 consumer technology companies.
About 42 exhibitors (fewer than 7%) had canceled their plans for CES as of Dec. 22, but more than 60 exhibitors have been added as replacements, CTA said in a news release.
“Our focus remains on convening the tech industry and giving those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally,” the association said in a statement. “CES 2022 will provide an opportunity for companies from around the world, both large and small, to launch products, build brands and form partnerships. Given CES’s comprehensive health measures — vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests — coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, or while experiencing it online.”
“CES will and must go on,” Shapiro said in a statement. “It will have many more small companies than large ones. It may have big gaps on the show floor. Certainly, it will be different from previous years. It may be messy. But innovation is messy. It is risky and uncomfortable. I view CES as representing the best of our unique American history — a place where those who are different and have big ideas can gather, where success is not based on class or religion or anything but the strength of an idea.”
CTA encouraged attendees to get booster shots, flu shots and test for COVID-19 before attending CES and will require proof of vaccination. The event will follow Nevada public health guidelines and require attendees to wear masks indoors. Additionally, CTA will distribute complimentary COVID-19 self-test kits to each CES attendee.
“It’s time we return to making the world better, rather than living in fear,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Earlier this week, President Biden asked Americans to vaccinate, wear masks, test for COVID — and stop closing schools and businesses. I agree. CES 2022 will kick off 2022 messy, but it will be chock-full of innovation and full of entrepreneurs and businesses. We will all be taking risks. But without risk there is no innovation. “