With the COVID-19 global pandemic looming large on the entertainment landscape, San Diego Comic-Con has finally done what most expected they would do: they have announced the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con for 2020. From the SDCC web site:
Comic-Con Announces Plans in Light of the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Current Situation Requires Exceptional Measures
For the first time in its 50-year history San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), the organizers behind the annual pop culture celebration, announced today with deep regret that there will be no Comic-Con in 2020. The event will instead return to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22-25, 2021.
Recognizing that countless attendees save and plan for its conventions each year, and how many exhibitors and stakeholders rely upon its events for a major portion of their livelihood, they had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer. Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.
Similarly, WonderCon Anaheim, which was to have been held April 10-12, 2020 will return to the Anaheim Convention Center from March 26-28, 2021.
In addition to their conventions, Comic-Con has been planning a major renovation of Balboa Park’s Federal Building to be completed for the grand opening of the Comic-Con Museum in the summer of 2021. However, the COVID-19 situation has had an effect on those efforts as well. As such, they will be rephasing the Museum’s initially planned major renovations, but will not scale back the experience to be offered to visitors upon the Museum’s grand opening. They anticipate releasing building plans illustrating the Museum’s transformation and sharing more information about those efforts in the coming months.
SDCC also announced that individuals who purchased badges for Comic-Con 2020 will have the option to request a refund or transfer their badges to Comic-Con 2021. All 2020 badge holders will receive an email within the next week with instructions on how to request a refund. Exhibitors for Comic-Con 2020 will also have the option to request a refund or transfer their payments to Comic-Con 2021 and will also receive an email within the next week with instructions on how to process their request.
In the next few days onPeak, Comic-Con’s official hotel affiliate, will be canceling all hotel reservations and refunding all deposits made through them. There is no need for anyone who booked through onPeak to take any action, including trying to cancel their reservations online or contacting the company via phone as the process will be handled automatically. Those who booked rooms through onPeak will be notified when refunds have been completed.
“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” said David Glanzer, spokesperson for the organization. “We eagerly look forward to the time when we can all meet again and share in the community we all love and enjoy.”
Both WonderCon and San Diego Comic-Con have now rescheduled for their same dates next year. This makes sense, because trying to plan anything that big takes a year’s worth of planning. Nothing as big as a 70,000 to 135,000 attendee convention is going to be happening with only a few months’ advance notice, and when WonderCon 2020 first announced it was going to be postponed, we knew the writing was on the wall for SDCC as well.
There is actually some concern that even scheduling for the same dates next year in 2021 might be too ambitious, if history is any measure. In 1918, the Spanish Flu was sweeping back and forth across the country, while World War I was in progress. At the end of the war, an over-stressed populace was eager to return to normal life, and the social distancing guidelines were lifted. This resulted in a second wave of the pandemic, resulting in a death toll that was actually greater than the war itself.
A working vaccine for COVID-19 may be more than a year away. It’s entirely possible that next year’s conventions may have to be cancelled too. Instead of being near the end of the coronavirus pandemic disaster, we may be just getting warmed up.
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