For anyone following California news the only shock is that it took so long.
Comic-Con International, organizers of San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon, and other conventions, has released a statement officially cancelling the 2020 San Diego Comic Convention.
Ticketholders will receive emails letting them choose to get a refund on their ticket or transfer the ticket to attend the 2021 convention. Refunds will automatically be issued for hotel reservations made through OnPeak (the official organizer for hotels blocked for the convention) with no penalties or fees.
This is the first cancellation after 50 years of consecutive conventions. It follows the rescheduling of WonderCon from its original April 10, 2020 date. The new statement confirms WonderCon will resume in 2021
While word about how (or if) exclusives will be distributed has not been announced. When WonderCon was delayed Funko and other normal exhibitors put their WonderCon exclusives for order online the weekend of April 10.
San Diego Comic-Con is the world’s largest pop culture convention. While Comic-Con International has stated they cap attendance at 135,000 over 167,000 fans from around the globe attended the 2016 event.
Anyone who has attended in the past few years can testify the convention is wall-to-wall people from its “limited” opening on Wednesday (called Preview Night) until its closing on Sunday. Its venue, the San Diego Convention Center, has a maximum occupancy of 125,000 and the excess of people is literally felt, in the form of bodies squeezing against each other. From the cavernous exhibit floor to the panel rooms, fans are atop each other, or swimming through crowds, the entire time.
Needless to say: in such an environment social distancing is not only absent, it would be something impossible to enforce as fans race to booths to get the exclusive toy, or to panels to glimpse their favorite TV star.
The writing for this cancellation was on the wall since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in February. The death knell for SDCC was sounded on April 14, 2020 when California Governor Galvin Newsom stated:
The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”
Given the tight quarters found at San Diego Comic-Con International and Governor Newsom’s statements it’s impossible to wonder if COVID-19 will be under enough control, through herd immunity or vaccinations, to hold SDCC even in 2021. With the global attendance containment of COVID-19 needs to happen not only in California but across the globe. More, will studios and publishers want to send their A-list talent to a swarming mass of people who may be carrying the potentially fatal disease.
Comic-Con International’s full statement reads:
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.”