40 years without feeling them
40 years after its first edition, the 16th ICML - INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MALIGNANT LYMPHOMA, the world's largest conference dedicated to research on malignant lymphomas, kicks off. Due to the pandemic situation, the congress, which has always been organized in Lugano biennially, this year presents itself in a totally virtual form. In numerical terms, it is undoubtedly the largest international congress organized in our city: actually the last edition, which took place in June 2019, saw the participation of over 4000 physicians and researchers from all over the world. In addition to the Palazzo dei Congressi, the tensile structure built in the Ciani Park and the USI Campus, the congress facilities also included a large part of the local Exhibition Center.
ICML Photo Archive
A tough decision
For the 2021 edition, a hybrid form was initially assumed with 2000 guests in attendance and the rest of the participants online. The second wave of the virus this winter and the situation of uncertainty, however, forced the organizers to resize their intentions, finally leading them to opt for the virtual formula. "An unprecedented experience for us - comments the ICML president, Franco Cavalli - which is challenging us from an organizational point of view". Setting up a five-day event with hundreds of scientific exhibitions and thousands of connected people from all over the world is certainly not a trivial thing. «To avoid various obstacles - says Prof. Cavalli in an interview with Corriere del Ticino - we have decided to pre-record the entire congress, however inserting moments in which questions can be formulated live. In this sense we will have the support of three local skilful companies who will have the task of both directing the congress and recording the interventions of lecturers scattered around the world. Another problem concerned the issue of different time zones. Therefore we established that the congress will take place between 13 and 20». A big challenge that involves not only the organizers of the Congress, but the whole region, with all the repercussions not only in terms of tourism and prestige, but also economic. "It is always difficult to estimate the economic impact brought by our event to the region, however we have calculated that it is around 10 to 13 million francs".
ICML Photo Archive
An interesting future for the congress sector
However, as they say, not all evils come to harm: the trend towards downsizing and regionalization of large congress events such as ICML can have interesting prospects for the future. It is Prof. Cavalli himself who affirms it: «All in all, I don't think we should worry too much about our congress tourism pole. If attendance tends to decrease, an advantage could arise for Lugano, which (for large congresses of this size, ed.) has notable problems at the hotel level: congresses just a little bigger than ours that can't come at present time, in the future they could be organized in Lugano».
16ICML virtual edition