San Diego Comic-Con International: Will It Be Canceled?

The San Diego County Fair – another summertime staple in the world of San Diego events – has been canceled for the 2020 season, so is Comic-Con next?

Brad Streicher

With only three months left until San Diego Comic-Con International and ongoing coronavirus pandemic restrictions, many are wondering if the large-scale pop culture expo in the heart of downtown San Diego will be canceled.

On Tuesday, organizers of the San Diego County Fair – another summertime staple in the world of annual San Diego events – announced the fair was canceled.

The event was scheduled to run from June 5 to July 5. The San Diego County Fair is the largest annual event in San Diego County, typically drawing 1.5 million visitors.

The decision came on the heels of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s sharing of a six-step approach that he said will guide the state as it reopens its businesses, events, and daily life after the COVID-19 shutdown.

"Based on Governor Gavin Newsom’s press conference today, mass gatherings are not likely to be allowed for the foreseeable future. Therefore, we believe it is the responsible decision to postpone the San Diego County Fair to 2021," a post on the fair's website read Tuesday.

Each year, Comic-Con follows the San Diego County Fair.

This summer, Comic-Con is supposed to take place from July 23 to July 26 at the San Diego Convention Center in downtown San Diego – the same venue currently being used as a temporary shelter for homeless locals during the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Wednesday, Comic-Con organizers had not yet announced a decision on whether the show – with its crowds of costumed fans, celebrity panels, exhibits, and sneak peek screenings – would go on.

NBC 7 reached out to Comic-Con organizers Wednesday about the potential cancellation of the convention but have not yet heard back. NBC 7 also reached out to the San Diego Tourism Authority; that group is not issuing a statement at this time.

For now, the Comic-Con website states: “We continue to work closely with officials in San Diego and at this time no decision has been made regarding the rescheduling of Comic-Con slated to take place this summer; July 23-26, 2020. We urge everyone to follow the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health officials.”

Meanwhile, WonderCon Anaheim, which is organized by San Diego Comic-Con International, was supposed to take place in Anaheim, California, last weekend, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the event morphed into an online affair dubbed WonderCon@Home.

The beloved, quirky convention was born in 1970 in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in the heart of San Diego. Over the decades, the “little event that could” has grown into a behemoth, taking over the San Diego Convention Center, neighboring hotels and spilling into the streets of downtown San Diego for a long summer weekend every year.

Comic-Con’s fervent fans typically attend the convention in elaborate costumes, transforming the city into a metropolis straight out of the pages of fantasy and science fiction.

What About Other Big Summer Events in San Diego?

In addition to Comic-Con and the San Diego County Fair, summertime in San Diego also brings the annual Del Mar Racing season and San Diego Pride.

Organizers of each event provided statements to NBC 7 about where the fates of those events stand.

As of Wednesday, a public relations spokesperson for Del Mar Racing said the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club still plans to hold its summer meet, which is scheduled to take place July 18 to Sept. 7.

The spokesperson said the horse racing season will he held “with a steadfast commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of our workforce, the public and our equine and human athletes.”

“The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is following the public health guidelines recommended by state and local officials as well as monitoring the status of the other horse racing facilities in California and around the country,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with the relevant public health officials as we get closer to our scheduled opening and will make decisions on any potential modifications at the appropriate time.”

Meanwhile, Fernando Zweifach López, executive director of San Diego Pride, said the governor’s latest announcements this week “show us a world where mass gatherings of any kind are not healthy or safe to conduct.”

San Diego Pride typically lands in the middle of the city's eventful month of July, and this year is set for July 18 and July 19.

“Health and safety are and always will be our number one priorities at San Diego Pride,” Lopez added, in a prepared statement. “While the future is unforeseeable, know that we continue to communicate and work closely with government and public health officials about any possible in-person event that may take place once it is healthy and safe to do so. As this continues to evolve and we continue to learn more we will share further updates with you.”

Lopez said San Diego Pride is working with the InterPride network to launch a virtual Global Pride, set to be held on June 27, which will bring together Pride celebrations from across the world, digitally.

“While it’s impossible to plan for the unknown, we are doing our best,” he added.

Update: On Thursday, San Diego Pride announced the cancellation of its in-person, mass gatherings of its July 2020 celebration.

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