ISAC is postponing CYTO Asia, which had been scheduled to occur in Shanghai in early September 2020, until the fall of 2021 due to the current coronavirus crisis in China. We have been monitoring the situation since before the Chinese New Year holidays began and conferred with many of our partners in China and the ISAC volunteers and staff working on CYTO Asia before making this decision. We feel this is the socially responsible decision as well as the best decision for ISAC from a business perspective. We could not imagine a scenario in which CYTO Asia in Shanghai in September 2020 would be a success. The main reasons behind this decision included:
It is hard to predict where the virus is going to end up, but we are just at the beginning of the outbreak now. It’s likely to be widespread and companies, speakers, and attendees are going to be reluctant to continue to commit to attending. Some are currently barred from traveling to China.
We don’t know when open and frequent airline travel to China will be restored.
Our important commercial partners will be reluctant to financially support the meeting in 2020 given the uncertainty, and most are barred currently from traveling to China.
Many other meetings such as ours are cancelling or moving their meetings to later this year or next. Our meeting planning partner MCI Shanghai had no alternative sites outside of China to suggest, but they have already approached our preferred venue in Shanghai about possible dates in 2021.
CYTO Asia is an expensive meeting with a $850,000 projected budget, and there is no reason to risk a possible failure.
Currently, we only had two contracts signed for CYTO Asia, and both vendors, MCI Shanghai and the AIM Group, have already agreed to work with us to move this meeting to 2021 with no penalties or extra charge.
We did consider moving CYTO Asia to another location in Asia during September 2020, but we think that the coronavirus is also going to affect travel and conditions in other parts of Asia. Other reasons for keeping the meeting in Shanghai but moving it to 2021 included:
We still believe Shanghai is the best location for our next CYTO Asia.
We believe our partners will be more supportive of a meeting in China, than elsewhere.
If we remain in Shanghai all the work can be translated to next year at no cost. This would not be true if we move the meeting from Shanghai.
We will continue to work with MCI Shanghai and the hotel to identify possible dates in September or October 2021. CYTO Asia committee members have notified our speakers who had committed to participating in a fall 2020 meeting and other scientific partners in China about this change. Our partners in China and at MCI Shanghai have assured us that they and their families are well. I hope the same can be said for all of your colleagues, friends and family in China.