The in-person future of the world's largest technology show is increasingly up in the air, as Intel ( (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report), General Motors ( (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report) and Lenovo ( (LNVGF) ) all pulled out of physical attendance at next month's CES 2022, citing pandemic risk.
Formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, CES is a tech event that has been taking place since the 1960s.
Held in Las Vegas every January, it is a space for major tech companies to present their latest gadgets and releases. In 2021, it was moved entirely online, but this year organizers opted to host an in-person event amid widespread vaccination.
But those plans are looking increasingly wobbly: Intel became the most recent high-profile exhibitor to move its CES 2022 exhibition online due to the the rising rates of Covid-19 infection and the rapidly-spreading omicron variant.
Along with GM and Lenovo, other presenters to retreat from in-person attendance in the last few days include Waymo, AT&T ( (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report), T-Mobile ( (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report), Amazon ( (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report), Meta ( (MVRS) - Get Meta Report) and Twitter ( (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report).
"After consulting with health officials and in the spirit of Intel’s safety policy, our plans for CES will move to a digital-first, live experience, with minimal on-site staff," an Intel spokesperson told The Verge in a statement. "We encourage you to join us as we deliver all our CES content and experiences virtually via the Intel Newsroom."
While omicron is now widely believed to be less fatal than other variants of the coronavirus, hospitals across the country have been struggling with overcrowding and breakthrough infections.
"I'm sorry we’ll miss seeing everyone at CES this year, but we are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees," T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert wrote on Twitter in an early commitment to pulling out, made before the ongoing company exodus.
As of Dec. 22, CES said it remained committed to hosting it in-person from Jan. 5 to 8.
"While we recently received 42 exhibitor cancellations (less than 7% of our exhibit floor), since last Friday we've added 60 new exhibitors for our in person event," event organizers said in a statement.