Earlier this year we posted a comprehensive calendar of all the prominent pop culture and gaming events set for South Africa in 2020. Then COVID-19 reached our shores. With a State of Disaster declared, and all gatherings of 100+ people banned, event organisers across the board have been sent scrambling. The result is a flurry of postponements and cancellations, of everything from theatre shows to sporting events, concerts and expos. Pop culture conventions are no different.
No doubt there are some very disappointed fans out there, but the organisers have made the most responsible decision for the health of attendees and the local geek culture community. Some are even stepping up to help with the reimbursement of travel costs in certain cases. Meanwhile, others are looking at ways to spotlight local vendors now missing out on a key source of income, and encouraging people to support these small businesses.
For the record, no decision has been made yet about events in the second half of 2020. That means this year’s editions of rAge and Comic Con Africa are still on track at the time of writing. We’ll keep you updated.
UCON – Cape Town
Originally set to take place this past weekend, 21 – 22 March at UCT’s Upper Campus Sports Centre, UCON 2020, a Cape Town gathering of anime and gaming fans, has been indefinitely postponed. There is no proposed replacement date yet.
Rush – Johannesburg
This year was supposed to be the Rand Show debut of Rush, the NAG-spearheaded esports showcase. Making the leap to the mainstream at one of Johannesburg’s most iconic events, this sibling to rAge was lined up for the Rand Show’s Festival of Gaming area over the Easter weekend from 8 – 13 April.
“Was” is the operative word, as it turns out. The Rand Show, and Rush, are now officially postponed. According to the official statement, “The event will be rescheduled at a later stage and will be done in consensus with government.”
ICON – Johannesburg
ICON is an interesting case. At the start of the year it looked like South Africa’s longest-running gaming, comic and geek culture convention was going through reconsolidation and refocusing during 2020. Instead of one big 3-day convention, smaller events across the country were being considered.
Now, though, it looks like something more solid is on the cards for June, according to the comments in this Facebook thread. A lot will hinge on how the COVID-19 situation pans out, however.
ICON would also have had a presence at the Rand Show over the Easter weekend, spearheading the South African regional finals of the World Cosplay Summit. With the Rand Show postponed, so too are the WCS qualifiers. The contest is now set to take place after August (exact date still to be confirmed), and the organisers are helping entrant teams from outside Gauteng reclaim some of their already-booked travel costs for April.
Comic Con Cape Town – Cape Town
2020 was intended to be the inaugural year of Comic Con Cape Town, the Mother City’s sister event to Comic Con Africa in Joburg. CCCT was all set to hit Cape Town Stadium over the long weekend of 1 – 3 May, offering locals access to pop culture stars, comics, cosplay and KidsCon. No more, though. This week it was announced that CCCT won’t be going ahead in 2020. Instead, the first-ever CCCT has been bumped to 24 – 27 April 2021. This now 4-day event is still set for the same venue.
Techfest – Johannesburg
At this stage, it’s unclear whether up-and-coming gaming and technology festival Techfest is still going ahead on 26 – 27 June at the Soweto Theatre. Right now its prospects don’t look good. All Techfest Roadshow events, which served as regional esports qualifiers for the festival, have been cancelled.
FanCon Comic Con – Cape Town
Last year it was announced that FanCon Comic Con, South Africa’s original comics industry con was shifting from its traditional late April/early May timeslot to 4 – 5 July for 2020. The move has been to the Cape Town con’s benefit. For now anyway.
With so much in the air because of Corona Virus, FanCon’s organisers have decided to halt all event planning until mid-April, when they will reassess the situation. If the pandemic is not under control by then, this year’s event will be postponed until COVID-19 is eradicated. Read the full statement here.
Of course, the above events aren’t the only geeky gatherings to be hard hit. Boardgame open days, tabletop gaming tournaments, esports contests, cosplay picnics and Free Comic Day festivities at local comic book shops will be affected by the social distancing and attendance number regulations.
All round, organisers and store owners are proving to be responsible and communicative about the measures they’re taking to keep the public and their own teams safe. Keep an eye on your email as well as the social accounts of these organisations and businesses for continual updates about what’s happening – or isn’t.
Last Updated: March 23, 2020