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San Diego Comic-Con is canceled for the first time in its 50-year history

The nation’s largest geek convention is officially canceled for 2020, but it will return in July 2021.

2019 Comic-Con International - General Atmosphere And Cosplay
Crowds flock outside the convention center at San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2019.
Daniel Knighton/Getty Images
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

San Diego Comic-Con will not take place in 2020, marking the first cancellation of the event in its entire 50-year history.

Comic-Con, the largest fan convention in the US, usually takes place in late July and is an annual pilgrimage for countless fans. But any hopes the festival’s organizers had that the coronavirus pandemic would have subsided by this summer seem to have given way to caution.

In a statement published April 17, the organizers behind the annual pop culture convention announced “with deep regret that there will be no Comic-Con in 2020.” They noted that while they had hoped to delay the decision because so many fans look forward to the annual event and so many exhibitors rely on it for income, “Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.”

Comic-Con will next return to the San Diego Convention Center in July 2021.

Anyone who’d already purchased badges for 2020 will be offered refunds, and those who had already arranged accommodations through the convention’s hotel-booking system will have their reservations automatically canceled and refunded.

San Diego Comic-Con is the latest event to be affected by an ongoing wave of cancellations and postponements as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The crisis has impacted cultural events, festivals, and industry gatherings across every sector, but the arts and entertainments sector — which relies heavily on concerts, festivals, and other public events where people gather in large groups — has been hit especially hard. Earlier this week, the Cannes Film Festival, originally tentatively delayed until summer, announced that plans for a summer event had also been placed on indefinite hold. The delays are signs that even if the pandemic subsides sooner rather than later, it may take a long, long time for the entertainment industry to recover.

Comic-Con’s cancellation is an especially severe blow to the city of San Diego, which reaps about $150 million in annual revenue from the event’s 135,000 attendees. As the pandemic continues, however, the convention center is at least being put to good use: Its famous Hall H has been converted into a homeless shelter for those seeking refuge.