The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is under pressure, amid growing worry of the new Covid-19 variant.

The 2022 CES show is expected to take place from Wednesday 5 January to Saturday 8 January next year, but a number of big name tech firms have announced they will not send personnel to the show.

Tech giants such as Amazon, Meta (Facebook’s parent), Twitter, Pinterest, announced on Tuesday their decision, all citing the Omicron variant of Coronavirus as the reason.


CES withdraw

Last year, as the Coronavirus pandemic still raging around the world, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) which organises CES, opted to make the 2021 trade show a virtual event, instead of its usual physical event that typically attracts around 180,000 attendees.

There are no plans to make the 2022 CES show a virtual event, but already some tech firms have announced their attendance decisions.

Amazon and its smart-home unit Ring told Reuters in an email they would not be onsite at next month’s event due to the “quickly shifting situation and uncertainty around the Omicron variant” of coronavirus.

American mobile operator and conference sponsor T-Mobile USA also said the vast majority of its contingent would no longer be going and its chief executive would not deliver a keynote speech.

“We are prioritising the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision,” T-Mobile was quoted by Reuters as saying, while expressing confidence that CES organizers were taking exhaustive protective measures.

The other companies had not planned large in-person gatherings.

Twitter had planned to have some staff attend, to participate on panels. However, both Twitter and Facebook have said they are now exploring online opportunities, Reuters reported.

Pinterest, before cancelling, had planned a scaled-down meeting area for its sales and partner teams, compared to years past.

Health precautions

It is reported that organisers for the CES 2022 show have opted for a number of strict health precautions for attendees.

This includes includes vaccination requirements, the wearing of masks, and the availability of Covid-19 tests.

And it should be noted that there are also a large number of big name firms still intent on attending CES 2022.

This includes Alphabet (Google), its self-driving vehicle unit Waymo; Sony and Qualcomm have all reportedly said they are sticking with plans to attend and show off new hardware or host meetings.

Other tech firms, such as GPU powerhouse Nvidia, had long planned for a virtual presence, having two executives deliver a keynote address by video.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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