TED 2020 to be postponed or held online amid coronavirus fears in Vancouver

The annual TED conference in Vancouver will not go ahead as planned this April because of the COVID-19 virus, and organizers are now trying to decide on an alternative.

Conference organizers confirmed to CBC that they’ve asked attendees whether they prefer to postpone the event until the end of July, or conduct a virtual conference online.

“Despite the global health situation, TED is committed to sharing insights, sparking action and hosting meaningful discussions of the ideas that matter most in the world. What form that takes will be determined in the next week,” TED spokesperson Karen Navarre Wicki said in an email.

She said the organizers will have a final decision on what to do by Monday.

TED is an acronym for technology, entertainment and design, and the week-long conference is the source of the famed TED Talks videos broadcast on YouTube and other digital platforms.

Vancouver has been home to the week-long event since 2014, hosting about 2,000 people who pay $10,000 US each to attend.

This year’s TED conference had been scheduled for April 20-24.

But as the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, there have been concerns about hosting mass gatherings in some parts of the world.

B.C. has identified 13 coronavirus patients so far, and more than 1,000 people have been tested. Across Canada, there have been 34 presumed cases of the virus.

Officials here say the risk to the general public is still low and they’re not warning against attending public events, except in certain cases.

“We’ve recommended people who are ill or who are at risk of having severe illness to avoid gatherings at this point,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.


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