ICANN should allow anyone who can attend in person to do so.
ICANN’s Board of Directors is meeting tomorrow to consider the fate of its Annual General Meeting scheduled for Seattle this October. It should move forward with in-person attendance for any community member who wishes to attend.
Come October, it will have been two years since ICANN held an in-person meeting. COVID has forced all of the meetings since then to the virtual world.
Credit where credit is due: ICANN is really good at online meetings. And it’s quite good at hybrid meetings in which some people attend locally, and others attend virtually.
Its prowess with online meetings has given people a choice over the years. Before, it was essential to travel around the world to participate in the ICANN process. Now, people have a choice. Some people report that it’s easier to attend online. Others get more value out of attending in person.
It’s true that some people will not be able to attend the October meeting for more reasons than just budget. Vaccinations rates are uneven around the world. Travel restrictions may still be in place for some countries.
Yes, we will likely have this same issue for at least another year, if not longer. Even post-pandemic, there are always issues that can make it difficult to travel.
So it’s time. It’s time to move forward with in-person attendance. Yes, attendance will be lower than usual (but higher than the past two years!). Yes, ICANN will need to put in place safeguards. The community is ready and willing to put up with some of the same hassles we have in everyday life right now.
It’s unfortunate that not everyone who will want to attend will be able to. But that’s not a reason to exclude everyone. ICANN’s board should approve the in-person meeting for anyone who wants to attend, subject to any health and safety restrictions it deems necessary.
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