ICANN Turns Cancún Into Virtual Only Meeting Over Coronavirus Fears

ICANN announced Wednesday it’s turning its ICANN67 Public Meeting, which was to be held in Cancún, Mexico, into a virtual meeting with remote participation-only. This decision, ICANN says, was made as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, considered a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization. Also up for review are the upcoming GDD Summit in Paris and the ICANN68 Meeting in Malaysia.

The meeting, scheduled for 7-12 March 2020, marks the first time in ICANN’s history that it will hold a Public Meeting solely with remote participation.

Each ICANN Public Meeting attracts thousands of attendees from more than 150 countries. With cases in at least 26 of those countries, there is the potential of bringing the virus to Cancún and into the ICANN meeting site. If this were to happen, there could be accidental exposure of the virus to attendees, staff, and others who come in contact with an infected individual.

COVID-19 continues to be a rapidly evolving global situation, with new cases emerging daily.

“This is a decision that the ICANN Board has been considering since the outbreak was first announced and it is one that we haven’t taken lightly,” said Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair. “We know that changing this meeting to remote participation-only will have an impact on and cause disruption to our community; however, this decision is about people. Protecting the health and safety of the ICANN community is our top priority.”

ICANN acknowledges the community will have many questions about travel arrangements, scheduling, and other meeting-related issues. So they will be consulting with community leaders and groups to focus the virtual program on the most essential sessions, and will publish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to https://icann.org in the coming days.

Remote participation is an integral part of any ICANN Public Meeting, but it will be vastly expanded for ICANN67, and will leverage the robust technology platform in use by the community today.

Those interested in attending the remote meeting should still register in the usual place (here), if they have not done so previously. To learn more about remote participation, visit ICANN Public Meetings.

ICANN will continue to make further announcements as circumstances warrant. In the meantime, ICANN org will hold a webinar to provide a short update and take questions. The webinar will be held on Thursday, 20 February at 1800 UTC.

ICANN is also reviewing upcoming meetings, such as the GDD Summit in Paris and the ICANN68 Meeting in Malaysia. So far, no decisions have been made and these are proceeding as planned. ICANN will keep the community informed of any changes.