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Message from the Banff 2020 Local Organizing Committee

Virtual 2020

This month we present a message from David and Penny of the Local Organizing Committee for this years' Banff Congress. Although we all share their disappointment that the event was ultimately cancelled, we are very excited to participate in the digital version of the congress, a first for our Association.

 

We were honored and excited when Banff, Alberta, Canada was named the site for the IATDMCT 2020 Congress. We were excited to have the Congress hosted in North America and even more excited that it was in our own backyard. We put together our local organizing committee, our scientific committee and started to work on the various aspects of organizing a large international meeting. At the Brazil Congress in 2019 we accepted the IATDMCT flag (wearing our red plaid shirts) and invited everyone to Banff to experience the beautiful Rocky Mountains in one of Canada’s flagship National Parks. The Scientific committee had the difficult job in reviewing the many worthy submissions and we put together an excellent scientific program. We invited abstract submissions, and had support from our corporate sponsors. We heard the news of a novel coronavirus appearing in some parts of the world but it truly was a world away from us in Canada. After all, at the beginning of March we had only two cases of coronavirus in Alberta. Things were looking good. However thing changed quickly and by the middle of March international borders were closing, and by the middle of May our welcome to Banff was rescinded and we had to tell our friends and colleagues to stay home. The excitement was gone – at least for a short period of time.

The decision to cancel the meeting was difficult but when we looked at all the factors, including most importantly the health of attendees, there was not much choice. However, this was not an easy process. As anyone who has organized meetings will know, canceling a meeting is not simple as there are usually significant monetary penalties associated with cancellations unless the conference centre and hotel agree. We learned about the legal intricacies of “Force Majeure” and had some anxious moments as we followed the travel restrictions going into place for Alberta and globally, and negotiated our options with the conference centre. In our scenario we were fortunate and grateful that the Banff Centre recognized the unprecedented times we were in and graciously allowed the contract to be cancelled. We are thankful to the Banff Centre for recognizing the international flavour of this meeting and allowing us to come to an early, and favorable, decision than otherwise might have been possible.

With that tough decision made another idea took root and we started contemplating the possibility of organizing a virtual meeting. Our excitement was now back on the upswing as we considered this new challenge. We appreciate the confidence the IATDMCT Executive had in the local organizing committee to sail into these uncharted waters in terms of IATDMCT Congresses. The scientific program for the Virtual Congress is finalized, our corporate friends have shown their support, and poster abstracts have been reviewed. Our corporate colleagues will have webinars to showcase their products and we encourage you to attend those webinars. Although we could not welcome you to Banff in person we want to welcome you virtually to IATDMCT Congress 2020, September 14-16, 2020. Registration is open at https://www.iatdmct2020.org/

Penny Colbourne and David Kinniburgh, Co-Chairs IATDMCT Banff 2020 Virtual Congress

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