Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty ImagesBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Organizers of the Consumer Electronics Show, the major annual tech trade show in Las Vegas, announced on Tuesday that next year’s fair will be an “all-digital experience” as a result of the pandemic.

CES 2021 is scheduled for Jan. 6-9, 2021. The beloved convention is known as a place where some of the latest gadgets — from laundry-folding robots to autonomous vehicles — are first unveiled to the public.

“Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which operates CES, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way,” Shapiro added. “By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences.”

The CTA said the all-digital event still will give attendees a “front row seat to discover and see the latest technology” and that the group plans to return to Las Vegas for CES 2022.

The announcement highlights the ongoing uncertainty of the conference and trade show circuit, which has been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a vaccine or treatment, mass gatherings long seen as essential in the tech industry remain on hold.

A handful of major conferences in 2020 already were forced to cancel or turn all-virtual as a result of the health crisis, including Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and the Mobile World Congress.

South By Southwest, the annual tech, music and film festival held in Austin, Texas, in March, was one of the first major conferences or trade shows canceled due to COVID-19. Organizers didn’t immediately respond to ABC News when asked about plans for 2021.

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