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Consumer Electronics Show 2021 will be an all-digital affair

Las Vegas’s biggest convention is going all digital next year — a major blow to both the gadget industry and the gambling capitol of the world.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which last year drew more than 180,000 attendees to the Las Vegas strip to check out the latest in robotics, TVs and even fake meat, will take an entirely new form due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post, the event’s Consumer Technology Association host said it’s “not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person.”

A physical presence is important to tech vendors and exhibitors at CES who rely on in-person meetings to show off their latest goods to media and retail partners. It’s also important to the Las Vegas hotels, restaurants, cabbies and even manicurists who rely on the big crowds every year to generate revenue.

Next January’s convention will feature virtual keynote talks and product showcases in place of packed convention centers and hotel ballrooms.

The CTA said that it expects the digital experience to be a one-time occurrence and plans “to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022, combining the best elements of a physical and digital show.”

CES is only the latest tech casualty to fall victim to the virus. Keynotes from Apple, Facebook and Google all scrapped the in-person portions of their annual developers conferences earlier this year.

The cancellation of CES comes a day after it was reported that Google won’t be bringing employees back to the office until at least July 2021.

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