Dispreferred actions generally come with accounts. While in this case, COVID-19 is fairly obviously the issue, we do want the community to realize that our executive board did not make this decision lightly.
Sitting where I do at UCLA, it was not entirely clear to me how dire the situation is at many universities around the world, so I recognize that some of you may have been similarly unaware.
However, our executive board represents five countries on four continents. Each has been affected somewhat differently by the pandemic. Some universities are struggling to stay afloat, let alone fund travel to conferences. Therefore, to attempt to hold ICCA in 2022 when widespread vaccination may still be unavailable for some parts of the world, did not seem viable to the board.
A 500+ international conference on social interaction held only once every four years must be, in our unamimous opinion, in person. And to do it well, we need 18-24 months of solid lead time – the costs start to mount at that point. To start the clock now, when so many of our participants are unable to secure funding, can’t even begin to assess the safety of traveling, have no idea whether they will be able to leave family at home, or what travel will cost in 2022 would be, in our opinion, irresponsible. We were faced with sticking to the timeline on a wing and a prayer, with the possibility of incurring a substantial financial loss, or pushing back a year and hoping that with that additional time, vaccinations will have made it through a substantial proportion of the population; travel will have resumed; and universities worldwide will have begun the road to recovery.
We believe that our community is best served by hosting a conference when as many people as possible can attend. We are particularly grateful to the University of Queensland in Brisbane for being willing to continue to host the next ICCA, and we hope you will be there with us in 2023.