In the last few months, we’ve been monitoring closely the dynamics of the pandemic and carefully weighing the pros and cons of running GECCO’21 in various modes (which included hybrid mode with all sessions on-site, hybrid mode with a smaller number of sessions on-site, and online-only mode). We also conducted a poll on preferred form of attendance that we sent to the GECCO 2020 authors. As a result of this process, a decision was made to run GECCO’21 in online/virtual mode only.

We understand that some of you may feel disappointed with this outcome. The prospect of meeting in person in the beautiful city of Lille was exciting indeed. However, after long considerations, we ended up with just one argument in favor of the hybrid mode, i.e. making it possible for many in our community to meet in person. On the other hand, the list of counterarguments is long: huge uncertainty about the number of prospective attendees, and the financial risk that follows from that; problematic co-organization of on-site and on-line activities; and, last but not least, the fact that a poorly attended hybrid event may actually look and feel worse than a well-attended on-line one. We think that it’s way better to have a strong, healthy, well-attended online GECCO'21, than a glitch-prone and not so well attended hybrid event.

This year we witnessed immense progress in technologies that facilitate our virtual interactions and there are many interesting solutions that we can implement. Therefore, we hope to turn this challenge into an opportunity, and the organizers' team is working hard to make GECCO'21 a great and original experience. We count on you all in helping us out at that.