Nearly every major, large-scale event in 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Large gatherings are a hotbed of COVID-19 infection, after all, so sporting events, concerts, and conventions were all postponed in the interest of public health. With two vaccines in distribution and the U.S. slowly inching its way out of a crisis, people are wondering if Comic-Con 2021 will be canceled this year, or if it can proceed as planned.
The last major convention to take place in the U.S. occurred in March 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to take hold in the U.S. Since then, we’ve seen a slew of postponed or outright canceled events. Even San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest convention in the country, was forced to cancel its in-person event.
When Comic-Con event organizers announced that the planned July 2020 convention was canceled, they also announced the convention’s planned 2021 dates. If things go off as intended, the San Diego Comic-Con will take place between July 22-25, 2021.
It also announced the planned date for WonderCon Anaheim, which was supposed to happen between April 10-12, 2020. As of this writing, event organizers are planning for the event to occur at the Anaheim Convention Center from March 26-28, 2021. These dates, in particular, seem a bit ambitious at this point in the pandemic.
California’s COVID-19 numbers are on the decline, but it is still a coronavirus hotspot. As of Feb. 16, the state has seen nearly 3.5 million infections and more than 47,000 deaths. Even with cases plummeting, it is difficult to imagine many people attending a massive in-person event that soon.
As noted by the chief communications and strategy officer for Comic-Con International, David Glanzer, it is difficult to anticipate whether the convention will be possible in March 2021. Organizers have accepted the reality that the event may need to be canceled at the last minute.
“I don’t think anything is off the table,” Glanzer told IGN. “But scenarios can change rapidly.”
“We can, as an entity … plan one event and secure dates and all that,” he continued. “But if there’s a surge [in cases] or something happens, it can be shut down very quickly. There’s just so many variables that I don’t think any of us have ever had to deal with before, short of a natural disaster.”
Assuming Comic-Con 2021 proceeds as planned, people who lost out on the experience in 2020 have a chance to recoup their losses. Anyone who purchased a badge for last year’s event were provided the option to request a refund or transfer their badges to Comic-Con 2021. The same goes for exhibitors, many of whom lost out on huge amounts of income in 2020 due to canceled conventions and events.
Either way, exhibitors and attendees can likely expect a change from Comic-Cons of the past. Glanzer anticipates a partially virtual, partially in-person event.