ICANN69 Expectedly Becomes Virtual Meeting, The Third In A Row Due To COVID-19

As expected, ICANN have announced the ICANN69 Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was to be held in Hamburg, Germany, will not proceed as an in-person meeting due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Instead, the Board has directed the ICANN org to coordinate with the ICANN community on the best way forward for ICANN69 to meet the expected outcomes of an ICANN AGM and support the community’s ongoing policy advice and development work, despite being unable to meet in person.

The meeting, scheduled for 17-22 October, will be the third time ICANN will hold a Virtual Public Meeting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICANN67, originally scheduled for CancĂșn, Mexico, was held as a virtual meeting, as will the upcoming ICANN68, originally scheduled for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

ICANN explains the health and safety of the ICANN community is always a top priority, and as such, convening ICANN69 as an in-person meeting is not expected to be feasible by its scheduled date. While progress has been made to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, there are still several barriers remaining that prevent holding large international meetings, such as ICANN’s Public Meetings. These include ongoing restrictions on international travel, diminished flight availability, challenges in obtaining visas, physical distancing requirements, the risks posed to the local host community, and the possibility of a resurgence resulting in further lockdowns.

“Above all, the health and safety of the global ICANN community, Board, and staff is the most important consideration for any Public Meeting,” said Maarten Botterman, ICANN Board Chair. “As of right now, there are still too many uncertainties involved with hosting a face-to-face meeting. The Board believes that this is the right decision, and it gives us ample time to plan a successful Annual General Meeting. There’s a great deal of work to be done, so let’s continue to focus on getting it done, together.”

ICANN is currently scheduled to convene ICANN70 in Cancun, Mexico, and ICANN71 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

ICANN org, in consultation with the ICANN community, will build on the lessons learned during ICANN67 and ICANN68 to improve upon the meeting format. In its decision, the Board directed the ICANN org to work with the community leaders to determine how to ensure that the virtual meeting fulfills the community’s agreed-upon priorities.

Those interested in attending ICANN69 will still be required to register. An announcement will be posted to icann.org once registration is open. To learn more about remote participation, visit ICANN Public Meetings.

More information, including details about the meeting’s time zone, language interpretation options, and final schedule will be provided at a later date.

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