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CES tech show shortened to three days as Omicron cases rise

CES was held entirely virtually last year. It will be a hybrid online and in-person event this year but will run from 5-7 January, one day shorter than planned

FILE PHOTO: Crowds enter the convention center on the first day of the CES tech show on 7 January 2020. The annual CES gadget convention will be three days instead of four following an uptick of COVID-19 cases and the withdrawal of some of its best-known tech presenters. (AP)

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The annual CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) gadget convention will be three days instead of four following an uptick of COVID-19 cases and the withdrawal of some of its best-known tech presenters.

Convention organizer The Consumer Technology Association announced in a statement Friday that CES will run from Jan. 5-7, one day shorter than planned. The event still has over 2,200 exhibitors confirmed to show off their products at the Las Vegas convention, spokeswoman Jeanne Abella said.

Also read: CES 2021: How will we hit the road in a covid-changed world?

The announcement follows the withdrawal of tech giants from CES last week citing health risks of the omicron variant, including cellphone carriers like T-Mobile, whose CEO had been slated to deliver a keynote speech. Computer maker Lenovo and social media companies like Twitter and Facebook parent company Meta also canceled plans to attend. News outlets including CNN said they would cancel or reduce coverage, an AP report explains.

CES was held entirely virtually last year. It will be a hybrid of online and in-person this year, with organizers offering digital registration allowing access to around 40 livestreamed events, Abella said.

On the convention floor, attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks. Organizers are asking participants to get COVID-19 tests before they arrive, but negative results are not required.

According to a Reuters report, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has doubled in eight days to a record high of 329,000 a day on average.

As worries over the new variant loom, many other companies have withdrawn from presenting in-person at the event over the last few days, a host of firms including Advanced Micro Devices and Proctor & Gamble, the Reuters report added. Sony Group's Sony Electronics has said it will have limited staffing and attendees at the event.

Held every year in Las Vegas, CES is one of the biggest technology events in the world. Last year, as the pandemic grew further, companies had unveiled a host of innovations to fight COVID-19 – from high-tech gadgets to drones that disinfect stadiums.

(With inputs from AP and Reuters)

Also read: CES 2021: How the tech sector is aiming to zap the covid-19 virus with new gadgetry

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