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IFA 2020 to physically take place, minus public access

IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker
IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker
The COVID-19 pandemic has clipped wings of many global conferences in the first half of 2020, but not IFA 2020.

Unlike many other exhibitions that have opted to continue this year's event in an online format, the 2020 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin will push through as a real-life event from Sept. 3 through 5 at the usual location of Messe Berlin exhibition hall.

IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker, at the online global press conference conducted on Tuesday, said that this year's IFA will focus on two things -- sharpening the annual tech show's core identity and ensuring everyone's safety.

IFA 2020 has been cleared to take place under stringent healthcare guidelines and there will be protocols tailored to the current situation, Heithecker said.

This means the world's biggest showcase of cutting edge technologies and innovative home appliances will not be open to the public this year.

The invitation-only IFA 2020 has a headcount limit of 5,000, with 800 assigned for journalists who are asked to be the eyes and ears for the public. 

"The coronavirus has changed the world. We don't know the new normal yet, but the old normal is gone," said Heithecker.

"After lockdown there will be a lot of pent-up demand. New products have to be presented by the time of Black Friday, Singles Day, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Chinese New Year," Heithecker said.

“After all the event cancellations during the past months, our industry urgently needs a platform where it can showcase its innovation, so that it can recover and rebound. The recovery of our industry starts here at IFA Berlin.” 

While virtual events were useful, they were “missing the immediacy, hands-on experience and human connections that make events like IFA Berlin so incredibly useful” Heithecker said.


IFA 2020 Global Press Conference
IFA 2020 Global Press Conference


The opening keynote for this year’s IFA will be delivered by Cristiano Amon, the president of Qualcomm.

Amon will touch upon the topic of new normal after COVID-19 and the future of mobile connectivity.

Furthermore, at IFA 2020, there will be four parallel but stand-alone events: the IFA Global Press Conference for brands’ keynotes and press conferences; the sourcing show IFA Global Markets; the innovation platform IFA NEXT meets IFA SHIFT Mobility; and the IFA Business, Retail and Meeting Lounges.

Each event will accommodate only 1,000 people per day.

There should be no concern for any grave side effects that may spawn from this subdued global gathering, Hithecker asserted.

"Situation in Germany is very relaxed. There will be no need for back-up solution (for a COVID-19 relapse)," Hithecker said.

"By September, we will be in a better place, lockdown will be over. But every country is pulling through at its own pace. Come September, there may still be countries that remain closed, and social distancing rule will still be the norm everywhere. But our world needs technology. Our world depends on global trade," Hithecker said.

Hithecker declined to say how much the COVID-19 has cost IFA in terms of revenue, but added that IFA was not alone in bracing the blow.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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