Collision tech conference cancels in-person Toronto event over COVID-19 fears

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an armchair discussion with founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Corp, Shahrzad Rafati, at the Collision tech conference in Toronto on Monday May 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Organizers of the Collision tech conference, which was set to be held in Toronto in June, have cancelled the in-person event and have instead opted for an online summit over fears of COVID-19.

“For now, given the evolving nature of COVID-19, we think gathering tens of thousands of people from almost every country in the world in one place this June would be irresponsible,” Collision founder Paddy Cosgrave said in a statement.

“Toronto has not suffered a significant COVID-19 outbreak, and at Collision, we want to ensure that remains the case.”

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Cosgrave said the event will still be happening but will take place online in the form of the Collision from Home conference.

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Refunds will be provided for ticket holders, if they request one, up to 30 days after the online event, Cosgrave said. Ticket transfers will also be provided to the Collision 2021 event.

“In other words, there is no risk in attending Collision from Home. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised if not, you can apply for a full refund,” he said.

Around 30,000 people were expected to attend the event at the Enercare Centre on the Exhibition Grounds from June 22 to 25.

Last year, the conference drew an estimated 25,000 attendees and had 700 speakers over four days.

Several notable figures attended, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Toronto Mayor John Tory responded to news of Collision’s cancellation in a statement Friday.

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“I am disappointed that Collision has had to make what I know is a tremendously difficult decision as many other conferences around the world have had to do as COVID-19 has spread and many businesses limit global travel,” he said.

“Collision is North America’s fastest growing tech conference and we are proud that it calls Toronto home. I have spoken personally with Collision founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave and told him we are committed to working with Collision to help host Collision from Home … I will be working with Collision, city staff and Exhibition Place to make sure Year 2 of Collision in Toronto in 2021 will be a fantastic event.”

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