We knew this was coming; EICMA, the huge moto exhibition that takes place in Milan each year, has announced it is cancelling this year’s show. Or, in the lingo of public relations, it is “postponing” the show until 2021.
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The Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori is unquestionably one of the world’s largest motorcycle shows and has long served as a platform for the unveiling of manufacturers’ latest and greatest models. But with Milan being in the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak and the worldwide pandemic far from over, it was hard to imagine how the event was ever going to carry on as normal this year.
That was obvious in April, when both BMW and KTM/Husqvarna announced they would not be attending any moto shows this year – EICMA included. It became even more undeniable last week, when Intermot, the every-other-year show that takes place in Cologne, Germany, announced that it was scrapping this year’s show. Several other shows around the world – such as the UK’s Motorcycle Live – have also given up.
No doubt EICMA’s organizers were desperate to keep the doors open. Coronavirus has absolutely slammed Italy, the Lombardy region in particular, and hosting a worldwide event like this would have been a real show of resiliency. Potentially, though, it would have also been incredibly dangerous. EICMA draws moto-enthusiasts from every corner of the world; and even the press-only days are heaving with people. What better way to cripple a country with a second (or third) wave of the pandemic than by having thousands of people fly in from all over the globe and huddle next to each other for several hours before they head to local bars, restaurants and hotels?
“Responsibility has been imposed on us and makes us act on a wide scale in the interest of the exhibitors and our visitors, postponing the 2020 show with a solid convergence of intentions,” said EICMA Managing Director Paolo Magri in a media statement that was clearly run through Google Translate. “The value and international leadership of our exhibition-event have convinced us not to wager on the evolution of the health situation linked to the CoViD-19 emergency and, above all, to listen to and protect the whole of the two-wheeler industry.”
EICMA’s organizers are already planning the event’s return, though, having announced the dates of next year’s show – 9-14 November 2021 – within the same media release.
“The 2021 Show will have great symbolic value,” said EICMA Chairman of the Board Pietro Meda. “We hope that it can contribute to making fans and the whole two-wheel sector forget this difficult and exceptional situation.”
I doubt we’ll forget about it. Despite the blindly wishful thinking of initiatives like Unlock Your Freedom (it takes a lot of money, time and focus to get a motorcycle license in Europe and the UK – expecting people to put in that kind of investment for the sake of not having to wear a mask on public transport is just plain silly) I anticipate the motorcycle industry will be in a hurting state of desperation by the time we get to EICMA 2021.
Hopefully it will be a good event nonetheless. I’ve always enjoyed EICMA, having ridden to the show from the UK a number of times. As noted when talking about Intermot last week, however, the pandemic may force a shift in the way motorcycles are presented in the future. We may see more and more digital presentations, with manufacturers choosing to avoid the expense and logistics of attending a physical show in favor of connecting with worldwide audiences simultaneously through social media.
What do you think? Are moto shows soon to be a thing of the past?