CES will continue and must take place in Las Vegas | REMARK

We know that several large companies have reduced their physical presence at CES 2022, and we understand their concerns. They want to protect their employees from COVID-19 and the risk of having to quarantine themselves in Las Vegas.

At Consumer Technology Association, we passionately believe that innovation and technology will create a better world and solve some of the biggest challenges in health, energy, mobility, the environment and more. CES is the world’s biggest innovation event, and we have thousands of people from all over the world to see and show off products that will make life better.

Innovation can come from anywhere and from anyone, and we must respect and encourage that. This belief informs all of our public policy positions, and big tech companies – almost all of which are our members – respect CTA to always seek out small companies. Indeed, at CES and even as CTA members, over 80 percent of our members are small businesses. These companies and founders are the ones I think of when I say it’s not time to unplug CES 2022.

CES will and must continue. There will be a lot more small businesses than large ones. There may be large gaps in the show floor. Admittedly, it will be different from previous years. It can be messy. But innovation is messy. It’s risky and uncomfortable. I see CES as representing the best of our unique American history – a place where those who are different and have big ideas can come together. Where success is not based on class or religion or anything other than the strength of an idea.

As we look to CES 2022, we are faced with a difficult choice. If we cancel the show, we will hurt the thousands of small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators who have invested in building their exhibits and are counting on CES for their business, their inspiration and their future. If we don’t cancel, we’ll be up against the drums of the press and other critics who only tell the story through their lens of drama and big business.

We are aware that CES could be an event where the omicron variant can spread. We are leading the way by demanding masks and vaccines, recommending tests and offering free tests. We respect the fact that some do not want to take the risk of going to Las Vegas, even in the vaccinated CES bubble. But with strong security measures and fewer people, there is plenty of room for participants to socially distance themselves.

We have consulted with experts, both medical and analytical, and have been told that with our health and safety protocols, infections are expected to be minimal. We also work with leading health experts in Nevada.

We live in uncertain times. We’ve spent about 20 months surviving – thanks to vaccines, the medical community, and technology – in a virtual world. But as any CEO knows, we are humans. We need each other and we especially need each other for innovation to flourish.

For those who can’t make it to Las Vegas, we’ll be showing lots of key presentations and giving every exhibitor, including those who recently canceled, the free opportunity to expand their CES presence globally.

It is time we returned to making the world a better place rather than living in fear. CES 2022 will kick off 2022 in a haphazard fashion, but it will be full of innovations and full of entrepreneurs and businesses. We will all take risks. But without risk there is no innovation.

Gary Shapiro is President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association.

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