The organisers of IMEX Frankfurt, one of the world’s largest event industry tradeshows, has cancelled its 2020 event, which was due to take place 12-14 May.
It comes as the World Health Organisation officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic overnight.
IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom and CEO Carina Bauer released a statement saying the decision to cancel is an “enormous disappointment”.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and there are two overriding concerns that have caused us to make this decision at this time,” the statement read.
“First is the uncertainty caused by the fact that the German health minister has recently called for the ban on events with over 1,000 people which some German states have already endorsed, including the state of Hesse where Frankfurt is located.
“Second, our primary concern is always the responsibility we feel towards our exhibitors and partners, who fund the show – not only by purchasing stand space but also in the considerable additional investment they make in everything from the build of stunning stands to the hosting of buyer events.”
The cancellation comes less than two weeks after Bloom and Bauer stated their intention to continue with the show.
“Whilst only a short time ago we felt optimistic that May was far enough away to confidently proceed with our plans, as it stands today we cannot guarantee the one thing that our exhibitors trust us above all else to deliver – namely a large-scale, high quality hosted buyer programme,” said Bloom and Bauer.
“In an ideal world we would wait and see. But we are in the real world and we cannot, in all good conscience, ask our exhibitors to continue to invest money against which they may not get a return.
“Both of these factors – uncertainty around whether IMEX will be allowed to proceed, as well as doubts as to the number of buyers who will be able to attend – have led us to the conclusion that we now have no option but to cancel IMEX in Frankfurt.”
The organisers emphasised the decision was based “purely on the facts as we know them today” and on the “responsibility and genuine care we feel for all our clients and the global business events community”.
The team is now working to deliver a successful IMEX America, due to take place in Las Vegas on 15-17 September 2020.
View the full statement from IMEX Group here.
For up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, visit the World Health Organisation website.