Multiple geek cons in Europe have joined the growing list of cancelled events in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
First and foremost, thank you to our followers who alerted us to the first two cons we’re discussing today. We are keeping track of as many cons and theme park disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak as possible over on our Coronavirus Convention and Theme Park Impacts page, and you’re helping us expand our reach greatly. If you have news, let us know and we’ll add it to our list.
Our first event, Manga & Comic con Leipzig (Leipzigerbuchmesse), which was scheduled to take place March 12th-15th in Leipzig, Germany, has been cancelled. Their other two events for the year have also been impacted (unclear if all the events were scheduled for the same time or other dates as there is a language barrier when searching for information), with their next confirmed event planned for March of 2021.
The organizers released the following statement (roughly translated):
With a heavy heart and with great regret, we have to inform you today that this year’s Leipzig Book Fair, which was planned for March 12th to 15th, will not take place. The same applies to the Manga-Comic-Con, which takes place in Leipzig, the Leipzig Reading Festival and the Leipzig Antiquarian Book Fair.
The decision was made by the Leipziger Messe in close consultation with the city of Leipzig and is greatly regretted by everyone involved.
The Leipzig Health Office followed the request of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics, according to which traceability of contact persons at major events must be guaranteed. Among other things, it stipulated that every trade fair participant had to provide written proof that they did not come from defined risk areas or that they had had contact with people from risk areas. In view of the approximately 2,500 exhibitors and around 280,000 expected visitors, this cannot be guaranteed. The health of our exhibitors, visitors, guests, partners and employees is our top priority. The city of Leipzig and the Leipziger Messe have therefore decided to cancel.
Much like the Book Fairs in London and Paris, this event seems to have been pushed into cancellation due to restrictions put in place by authorities. The measures the authorities are putting into place in Germany are interesting, as it puts the onus on event organizers to guarantee that their guests won’t bring the virus into the country. Organizers have, understandably, chosen to cancel large events, as this is almost an impossible standard to meet.
The Made In Asia Brussels event, scheduled to take place March 13th-15th, has been postponed to September 4-6th. They also released a statement (again, roughly translated):
70,000 fans of manga, anime and video games were preparing – literally (cosplay) as well as figuratively – to participate in the Asian pop-culture festival Made in Asia.
Due to the global impact of COVID-19, almost all of our Asian guests can no longer travel due to the measures taken in their respective countries. In addition, many exhibitors import products from the affected regions of the world and face logistical problems. Given the growing problems encountered in recent days, it becomes difficult for us to guarantee the quality of this festival and all the activities that were planned there.
This event seems to be following the pattern SWSX and ECCC did, where a large amount of guests dropped and they chose to cancel the event outright as a response. This is a very pro-active approach and I applaud them for it.
One con that hasn’t made any announcements so far is MCM Comic Con Birmingham. The reason I’m putting this one on my list when nothing has been said is because the cases in the United Kingdom have been spiking the past few days, and Reed Exhibition events have been particularly determined to put on their cons until governments step in to shut it down.
We’re already tracking MCM Comic Con London, the bigger of the MCM events, but the one in Birmingham is scheduled for March 21st and 22nd, whereas the London one doesn’t happen until the end of May. If an MCM event is going to be impacted, it’s going to be Birmingham first.
Birmingham has had one confirmed case of COVID-19, though as I’ve mentioned before, this statistic becomes less and less relevant as people tend to travel a great distance for cons. Over 200 people in the United Kingdom have been confirmed, there is community spread, and the UK receives dozens of flights daily from heavily impacted areas. So while there is ‘only one’ confirmed case in Birmingham, that hardly matters.
I can’t find specific containment information for various regions of the United Kingdom. My initial assumption regarding the UK based Reed Exhibitions event that got cancelled (London Book Fair) was that their hand was forced to do so by the government. However, it could have been a regional thing and other events in the UK are carrying on as normal. Leeds Anime & Gaming Con is also scheduled without interruption.
If anyone has any United Kingdom specific sources regarding regional containment measures or enforced social distancing, please drop me a line. Right now it seems very hit or miss depending on which region you live in, so I can’t really protect how it’ll effect the UK con scene going forward.
Onto some upcoming cons stateside, let’s look at All-Con, which is also scheduled for next weekend in Dallas. In our previous update, it seemed like there would be no disruptions to the event, but as of Friday it appears there have been four guest cancellations. The convention organizers have released a statement on their Facebook page and requested that excerpts aren’t posted elsewhere to take things out of context, so we won’t be quoting any of it in this article. You can follow that link to read it in its entirety.
There are over a dozen conventions in the United States besides All-Con that are currently scheduled and I’m trying my best to keep track of each of them, but there is a high likelihood we’ll miss something. Right now I’m going to be focusing on cons in hard hit areas (Washington, New York, Texas, Florida), so if anything updates outside of these regions, there’s a high likelihood that I’ll miss it. But thanks to our wonderful followers, we got news about the first two cons mentioned in this article, so we’re happy for more tips!
Speaking of tips, check out my convention safety tip article below!
Editor’s Note (Jamie): I was checking my Twitter feed while editing this and learned that the Tuscon Festival of Books, which was scheduled to be held at the University of Arizona campus March 14-15, has been canceled. Arizona currently has 5 confirmed cases of Coronavirus.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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