Announcement Regarding Torucon 2020 and the Covid-19 Outbreak

The following is a summary of the main arguments in a large-scale risk analysis done in advance of Torucon 2020 in the regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the many challenges and insecurities related to the hosting of this year’s Torucon, we have decided unanimously to postpone Torucon: Celebration to 2021. We would like to use the time until to make our 10th anniversary even better!

We will be reimbursing all tickets in full, including the ticket fee. It might take some time for the funds to be transferred back to your account once the process starts, but we will refund your tickets by Wednesday March 25th at the latest.

If you have any questions about Torucon: Celebration, please contact us via our contact form, or dm us on facebook. We have also created a special FAQ relating to the situation at hand, where you can find answers to the most common questions.

Infection Control

The Infection Control unit at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health (FHI) published a statement on March 12th 2020, in which they state the estimated time and duration for the various phases of the Covid-19 epidemic. The current estimation is that the epidemic  will last up to a year, with the largest spread between May and October. This prognosis is uncertain, but as of now, there is no sign that the epidemic will die down before Torucon.

If the health officials do not order us to cancel we will presumably have to implement effective measures of infection prevention and control in order to stop the virus from spreading during the convention. Some relevant measures would include making hand sanitizer available at the entrances of every conference room and the like, near every sales station, such as the ticket counter, commercial stands or art stands, continuous sanitizing of equipment such as at the Quest Hub or Arcade, etc. This requires us to acquire equipment which is of better use to health care professionals and high risk individuals and groups.

In addition to means for sanitizing and cleaning it would be considered necessary to take measures to avoid close contact and keeping people at a distance of one-another. This would entail setting up stands and activity stations further apart, and providing enough space for people to pass others safely. Presumably there will not be enough space to do so. Additionally we would have to reduce the amount of available tickets in order to make sure there is enough space to avoid crowding.

Financial Risk

Torucon’s ticket service provider, Hoopla, recently announced that they have changed their practice for organizer payouts. From here on, the funds will be withheld until the event has concluded, in case of cancellation and ticket refunds. Ticket sales is Torucon’s main source of income, and the profit goes into the payment of the venue, technical equipment and other necessities. Many of these costs are required to be paid up front, which presently is impossible.

Due to the postponement of a large variety of events, such as conventions, concerts, confirmations, weddings and the like, the autumn season is going to be packed. This means we will have more than just other conventions to compete with. This, in addition to the infection control measures mentioned above, can lead to strongly reduced ticket sales. Which means that we might not be able to afford paying necessary costs, even if we received the payout in advance of the convention.

In relation to renting the venue, equipment and the like we have signed a number of contract. These contracts secure the profits of the owner or service provider, often in the event that a cancellation does not occur within a set time frame ahead of the scheduled event. As such, cancellation of Torucon at a time past this deadline, whether by our own judgement or by demand from the authorities, would require us to pay in full or partial costs as stated in the aforementioned contracts. In the event of a cancellation, we will not be able to pay these fees, due to the lack of ticket earnings.

Program Content

The main point of hosting Torucon is to create an arena for socialization, entertainment and cultural exchange, hereunder competitions, panels and workshops with qualified guests. Part of the entertainment includes inviting exciting and relevant guests previously unseen at Torucon, often from other countries, as the Norwegian cosplay community is quite small. But with financial restrictions due to the high economic risk, and strict but necessary demands from the authorities, it can be challenging to fill the program at all, even if we only invite domestic guests. Additionally, there will be several conventions looking to invite guests, and it is not guaranteed that guests will prioritize Torucon over i.e. local events.

Due to the shortage of disinfectant and other infection control equipment it could turn out to be difficult to take necessary measures to perform various activities as normal. Activities in which objects are exchanged between volunteers and visitors, such as at the Quest Hub, or where equipment is used by a variety of people, such as at the Arcade, might have to be drastically changed, or removed entirely from the programme. Furthermore, due to the restrictions to public transportation and social gatherings as it is, it could prove impossible to host competitions such as the K-Pop Dance Competition, where contestants need to meet and rehearse in close quarters.

Organizers and Volunteers

The ground pillar of any event such as Torucon is the volunteer crew that make the wheels go round and who perform much of the work before, under and after the event. For “Toru Crew” to be able to work as a unit and in teams dedicated to the various tasks, socialization and team building is required, in addition to providing information and any required training. Some teams also need to perform a lot of tasks early in the year, such as the Decoration and Showcase groups. Again, this proves very difficult with the restrictions currently placed on us due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Conclusion

Due to the current state, as well as of unpredictable situation ahead, every feasible area presents massive challenges in regards to the execution of this year’s Torucon. In the event that the health authorities will allow us to host Torucon in August, and our being able to put together an acceptable programme, we still face the risk of being hit with a financial burden of such scale that we might not be able to host Torucon again in the future. Therefore, the organizers have, after thoroughly considering the options, unanimously and with heavy hearts decided that Torucon: Celebration will be postponed until 2021. We vow to use the extra time now on our hands to make our 10th anniversary even better, and hope to see you there!

We will be fully reimbursing all tickets, including the sales fee. It might take some time for the funds to be transferred back to your account once the process starts, but we will refund your tickets by Wednesday March 25th at the latest.

Torucon