The Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) has been called off for a second consecutive year. The showcase was set to be hosted August 10-12 at ICC Sydney, the city’s convention and exhibition center.
The culprit is once again COVID-19. The latest coronavirus case spike in Sydney has forced the capital into an indefinite lockdown, and AGE organizers again canceling the event.
Citing the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, health officials in New South Wales reported 112 new COVID-19 cases in Sydney yesterday, a record high in 2021. Another 89 infections were confirmed today.
The Sydney outbreak has been traced to a limousine driver who tested positive on June 16. That person said he or she had earlier transported an airline crew. Since that infection, Sydney has reported almost 800 new cases.
The Gaming Technologies Association, which organizes and hosts the AGE, announced the convention’s cancellation today.
Given the proximity to the AGE, border closures, and the unknown restrictions of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, we needed to act now,” explained Gaming Technologies Association Chris Muir.
“We have not forgotten the heightened risk that this Delta variant poses for everyone at this time,” he added.
The Australasian Gaming Expo is Australia’s version of the Las Vegas Global Gaming Expo. The latter is the world’s largest annual gathering of gaming industry companies and professionals.
Established in 1990, the AGE annually attracts around 7,000 visitors. The AGE is focused on Australia and other casino markets throughout Asia. The convention attracts the world’s largest and most respected gaming manufacturers, including Australian-based Aristocrat, and the United States’ IGT and UK’s Scientific Games.
Muir says that while the industry will not convene in Sydney in 2021, remote industry relations will continue.
“We’ve seen significant initiatives from AGE exhibitors over the last 18 months as they support businesses with technology and physical distancing measures,” said Muir. “We’ll continue to connect buyers with sellers as our industry once again begins its road to recovery.”
Muri added that while exhibitors expressed interest in showcasing their products and services at a later time in 2021, no alternative dates were found for this year. The 31st annual AGE will now run August 9-11, 2022.
Conventions are returning in Las Vegas, but in Australia, COVID-19 continues to limit such large gatherings. That might be because of the slow rollout of vaccines Down Under.
According to information from governments compiled by Our World in Data, an online research center, just 9.2 percent of Australians are fully vaccinated. Some 27 percent are partially vaccinated.
By comparison, 48 percent of the US population are fully vaccinated, and 56 percent are partially immune.
Australia’s federal government has been blamed for the latest wave of COVID-19 cases in Sydney. The country’s vaccine rollout began in February. But shortages of Pfizer doses, the nation’s preferred vaccine, have greatly slowed vaccinations rates.
There has also been public complacency to receive the vaccines once allowed.
A government advertisement showing a young woman suffering from COVID-19 recently garnered public backlash, as people currently under the age of 40 are not eligible for the vaccine. Australia’s Chief Health Public Officer Paul Keely said it was “meant to be graphic” to “push the message home” to get vaccinated.