The 2021 Tokyo Motor Show is canceled, with the coronavirus pandemic to blame.

The Tokyo Motor Show is not a motorcycle-specific show. Automakers and other vehicle manufacturers also attend the show. It’s perhaps not as well-known to North Americans and Europeans as big bike shows like EICMA and Intermot, or big car shows like Geneva. However, it’s a major show for the Japanese car and bike OEMs. It runs every two years, on the year opposite Intermot, and in roughly the same time slot, around October. Just as Intermot is seen as an important secondary launching point for the Euro industry, second only to EICMA for those OEMS, so Tokyo is seen as an important show for the Big Four. Often, this is where we get our first look at the more interesting Japanese concept bikes, and the wildest experimental technology and design.

And, just as Intermot was canceled in 2020, now we see the Tokyo Motor Show canceled for 2021. The news comes as Japanese authorities battle COVID cases, with Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures currently in  a state of emergency until May 11. With the Summer Olympics still scheduled to run later this year, authorities are scrambling to get things under control.

This is the first time the Tokyo Motor Show has been canceled since its founding in 1954. In recent years, show organizers have expected as many as 1.3 million viewers; with the pandemic running, it’s unclear what attendance would have been, even if the show was allowed to run.

What next?

So—will there even be a show circuit left, once the pandemic is over?

At this point, many of the OEMs in Europe and Asia are working on their own virtual launch plans, with some companies saying they planned to focus on digital bike reveals. This was starting even before the pandemic, and you can bet those plans have ramped up. Suzuki seems keen to push its Motorcycle Global Salon, and Honda has similar virtual space staked out. They’re probably not shedding tears over the Tokyo cancellation.

EICMA is still scheduled for November 23-28 this fall, and China has already returned to business-as-sorta-usual, running the Auto Shanghai 2021 in late April.

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